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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    May 16, 2013
    12:00 - 5:01pm EDT  

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nation abroad. if you want to address the problem, we have an opportunity to do it. if you want to score political points, fine. but do not do it at the risk of american lives. let's work together to fix the problem, not use it for political advantage. with that, madam president, i yield the floor.and i observe ta quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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ms. murkowski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: request that proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: madam president, while we are waiting for colleagues to come and join us on the floor to speak about the to nomination of dr. ernest moniz to be secretary of energiment, i thought secretaryw minutes to fill in nigh colleagues about a meet i.g. in switzerland, the arctic council ministerial melting, comprised of the eight arctic nations of which the united states is one by virtue of the state of alaska. but mott to diminish -- but not to diminish the fact that we truly are an arctic nation. and our role, as such, involved with other arctic neighbors, is
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a growing role and a role that the rest of the world is looking at with great interest and anticipation as thousand the united states is going to step forward into this important arethat. a-- arena. this is the second arctic council meeting that i have attended. i was in nuk, greenland with secretary salazar two years ago. that was the first time that the united states had sent a cabinet member, sent the secretary of state, to the arctic council, and it caused great waves throughout the arctic world and certainly gained the attention of nations around the world. and the thought was -- or the sentiment was, the united states is finally stepping up much the united states is moving forward, recognizing its role as an arctic nation. so it was extremely important that secretary kerry continued
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that good work of secretary clinton in leading the u.s. in its role at this ministerial meeting. and i will tell you, secretary kerry hasy involved here in this body as a senator in his leadership on certain issues, specifically advancing the law of th law of the sea trt iratification of that important treaty, speaking out and being very forthright on the issue of climate change. his leadership at the council meeting in karumna yesterday was evidence as he worked to bring the parties together in terms of an agreement to move forward with how we treat observers to the arctic council. so i commend secretary kerry for his leadership, certainly for his initiative in ensuring that the united states continues to have a high-profile and a
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growing profile. so why is this important? why do we need to not only be engaged but to step up that that engaugement many? well, yesterday the chairmanship ofhe arctic council tran ferred from sweden to canada, so our neighbors to the north will chair the arctic council for these next two years. in 2015 the gavel of that chairman will pass from canada to the united states. so we will be working to set the agenda, although it is a very consensus-driven process. but we will clearly be in a leadership role amongst the eight arctic 245eugs nations and those observer nations. so it is critically important that we be working towards assuming that leadership position. and in doing that, it's more than just attending meetings every other year. it is -- i.t. th -- it's the ags
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that come out as a result of these ministerials, these consensus initiatives that really help to advance -- advance the dynamic in an evolving part of the world. in nuk, the first-ever binding d agreement of the parties was entered into. this was a search-and-rescue agreement. if there is aprils dent up in the arctic -- and the world up there knows very little in terms of the boundaries and what happens with ice, but we recognize our infrastructure is severely limited. who is in charges, how do we work collaboratively with search and rescue. it was an important jisht that was adost -- initiative that was adopted two years ago. yesterday it was the adoption of the cooperation on marine oil
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pollution preparedness and response in the arctic. there is a recognition that in the arctic where some 15% of the world's known oil and gas reserves are situated that there will be activity. we're seeing it in russia to our left hand side. we're seeing it in canada to our right-hand side. in the united states, as we all know, shell attempted their first-ever -- excuse me, they attempted to begin exploration this year -- there have been previous exploration efforts up in the beaufort and in the chukchi. whether you are for or against oil development here in this country, the recognition is that within the arctic nations, there is activity, there is -- there is activity, there is ongoing efforts, whether it is through exploration or hopefully production that we'll move forward.
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so what we're trying to do within the arctic council and other entities is make sure that en tha hangars we're prepared. so we're putting forward collaboration and collective agreements so that there's an understanding that, in any event -- hopefully a very, very unlikely event, something that would never happen -- that there is an understanding as to how all nations act, the level of preparation that moves forward. so incredibly important initiatives as we deal with an evolving arctic. and think about -- think about the world up north there. really understand what is happening. this is no longer an area that is locked in ice and snow. an area where we are not able to transit, an area where there's no human activity. the arctic has seen, clearly, an
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opening, as we see the sea ice receding, we're seeing a level of activity that is unpreceden unprecedented. it's truly the last frontier, a new frontier, so to speak. and, again, how we prepare for a world where there is more movement, where there is more activity, is going to be -- is going to be a critical -- a critical key to the success and the opportunities. we recognize that the volume of shipping that we are seeing now coming through the northwest passage, coming from russia on down through theberg straits, the -- the bering straits, very, very narrow, out into the pacific, theres i incredible
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movement. so how are would we prepare ourselves for an increased volume of shipping traffic? do we have the navigational aides we need and the ports and the infrastructure that will be necessary? these are some of the initiatives that were discussed. obviously, when we think about an arctic is is changing, key focus on climate change and what is happening, we're seeing the impact of climate change in the arctic more noticeably than in other parts of the globe. so there's a great deal of science and research that is going on, that's necessary. how we collaborate, how we share that with all of our other arctic neighbors is going to be key. how we map our resources, whether it's understanding the sea floor, whether it's
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understanding the coastline, this is an area, again, that we use the term "frontier" and when we go out into a new frontier it's important to know what it is that we're dealing with. so how we can be working cooperatively on things such as mapping, what we can be dolg, again, to ensure that as we see changes, as we see development, as we see increased economic activity in the arctic that the indigenous peoples, the people who have been there for thousands of years living a true subsistence lifestyle that their lifestyle remains intact, that there can be a balance and a harmony with their world and this changing -- this changing scenery and landscape in front of them. a story that was conveyed to me several years ago, i was in
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barrow, which is, of course, the northernmost city in the united states and barrow is a relatively small community, teferl thousand individuals. one afternoon there was a group of folks that are in town and they're all speaking german. somebody asked, well, how did you get here, where did you come from, they didn't see that many people getting off the alaska airlines jet. and the german tourist pointed to a cruise ship that was offshore. they had lightered these german tourists into the community. a cruise ship in these waters just a few years back was unheard of. what we're seeing now are cruises. we've got a level of tourism that you would never have anticipated. so, again, how we prepare for all of this is a challenge for us. so the work of the arctic
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council, again, focusing on collaboration and cooperation, in an area, in a zone of peace as many would suggest, this is -- this is an important opportunity for us. from a diplomacy perspective, think about how many hot spots we have in the world, how many parts of this planet we're trying to put out fires that have been simmering or smoldering for decades, for generations, for some, millennia. if we've got a part of the world where we can be working together what kind of a message, what kind of a symbol does that really represent? so we've got some enormous opportunities within the arctic. i'll tell you, part of my challenge and i shared this with
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secretary kerry, is impressing upon people in this country that we are an arctic nation. madam president, you hail from the state of massachusetts, my colleague and chairman of the energy committee comes out of oregon. i would venture to say that most of your constituents don't view themselves as -- as people of the arctic. but we are. as 50 states, we are. and so how we work together to make sure that america's role as an arctic nation is represented is key. i'll conclude my remarks by noting that just on friday the white house released its arctic strategy. and this is a document to -- to advance national security interests, how we responsibly
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manage the arctic ecosystem, how we bolster international relationships. all very worthwhile goals. i think we recognize that it's perhaps a little bit light on details, but the good newat so l agencies are working to help advance these goals. what we need in addition to a coordinated strategy is a policy that's really going to make sense from all the different levels, whether it's how we deal with the energy, how we deal with the human side, how we deal with the security aspect of it, these are complicated issues. but, again, it's an opportunity that is almost unprecedented to be able to take a a blank page here and be able to create opportunities, be able to
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create policies that really began with a level of collaboration and cooperation. this is what we are hoping to build. not only -- not only with our arctic neighbors, but really beyond that. it was interesting to note the recognition of six nations to join as observers. china, india, italy, japan, singapore, and south korea. no one would ever suggest these are arctic nations, but the reason they want to be engaged as observers is they recognize the importance of the arctic to the rest of the globe. they recognize the importance, whether from a shipping perspective, from an environmental perspective, whether from just an opportunity for resource, there is a keen
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awareness that what is happening in the arctic is the place -- this is the place to be right now. so my urging to my colleagues is to pay attention to not only what is happening in the arctic but pay attention to how an increased role in the arctic impacts you and your constituents and your state. because whether it's sending goods from one nation to another, this is an opportunity to -- to allow for transit and commerce, that it's only been a dream. whether it's how we access our energy resources, again, in a way that is done responsibly, safe and with an eye towards environmental stewardship, there are opportunities for us.
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challenges, yes, but opportunities for us as well. so you will hear me talking much more about our role as an arctic nation, our responsibilities as an arctic nation, but i would just ask that you start thinking, where does massachusetts, where does oregon, where do you fit in as part of an arctic nation? with that, madam president, i thank you and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. cowan: thank you, madam president. i rise to speak in support of the nomination of dr. ernest moniz for secretary of energy, a native son of massachusetts. in voting yes on his nomination the senate will confirm someone who is extremely well qualified for the role of secretary of energy and someone who is proof positive that the american dream is alive and well. dr. moniz is a son to
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first-generation immigrants to america to fall river, massachusetts. an historic city on the south coast of massachusetts, rich with a history in the textile and garment mills, and now with the bright future in the innovation economy. it was in fall river where dr. moniz first developed his love of science both at home and in the massachusetts public schools. with the help of scholarships from his father's labor union, dr. moniz was able to attend and receive his bachelor he science degree, summa cum laude in physics from boston college. from there, dr. moniz went on to do even greater things. in massachusetts we are grateful for the decades of service he's given to one of the finest institutions not just in the commonwealth but in the world, the massachusetts institute of technology, otherwise known as m.i.t. where he has been a faculty member since 1973.
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dr. moniz has led many groundbreaking initiatives at m.i.t. including most recently serving as the founding director of the m.i.t. energy initiative and leading the m.i.t. laboratory for energy and the environment. through the m.i.t. energy initiative, he has been at the forefront of multidisciplinary technology and policy studies on the future of nuclear power, coal, nuclear fuel cycles, natural gas, and solar energy. the initiative has spun out numerous start-up companies from the campus labs into the emerging and important clean energy economy. in addition to his many years of service to the commonwealth, dr. moniz also knows his way around this time township which i am sure will serve him well in his new position. he served previously as undersecretary of the department of energy and before that, associate director for science in the office of science and technology policy for president clinton.
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one of the biggest challenges he will undoubtedly face as secretary is how to continue critical u.s. investments in emerging energy technologies including fusion in the face of a difficult budget climate. while i recognize that as secretary dr. moniz will need to recuse himself from this particular issue, i strongly support continued d.o.e. funding of the domestic fusion at m.i.t. which has for years led in fusion science and is an incubator for the next generation of fusion scientists. unless additional action is taken by d.o.e., the facility at m.i. timplet will be -- m.i.t. will be abruptly terminated and 130 scientists and support personnel at m.i.t. would also be terminated and hundreds of millions of dollars invested in this program over the past generation will be lost. our nation's domestic fusion
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program simply cannot withstand the proposed reductions without a severe impact to our fusion research and contributions to the fusion research community. this shortsighted approach could eliminate the ability of the united states to take a lead role in the development of the next generation of energy research. the department of energy has significant responsibilities that impact america's economic, energy, environmental, and security future. and it is my strong belief that dr. moniz has the ability, knowledge, experience, and vision to be an excellent secretary of energy for the people of the united states. i look forward to casting my vote to confirm this brilliant scientist, dedicated public servant and yes, native son of massachusetts. madam president, i yield.
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suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: i would ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: i rise to talk about a subject -- i should first ask for consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. i rise to speak about the national labor relations board. this is a board and a set of issues we're going to be debating and have begun debate on just recently. it will be with us for awhile and it's an important debate that we're having. as the senate considers the national labor relations board member nominations, i think it's very instructive and i would even say essential to look back at the history of the board and the national labor relations a act, the legislation that created the board, to recall why this board and the act is so important to our economy, our
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workers and our businesses. the national labor relations act played a key role in making the united states the prosperous nation we are today and a properly functioning labor board and a revived, modernized national labor relations act could be key players in a more prosperous future. congress passed the act in 1935 during the depths of the great depression. the national labor relations act legitimized and gave workers the right to join unions it encouraged and promoted collective bargaining as a way to set wages and settle disputes overworking conditions, and it led to a surge in union membership and representation. it's worth remembering as well why the act was passed in the first place. to quote section 1 of the act -- "the inequality of bargaining power between employees and employers substantially burdens and affects the flow of commerce
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and tends to aggravate recurrent business depressions by depressing wage rates and the purchasing power of wage earners." i'm quoting in -- in pertinent part. i think the most significant words in that -- in that part of the act are "the flow of commerce," how important it is to settle disputes so that we can have a free-flowing commerce and that workers have the rights that they're entitled to. now, as i said, it was passed in 1935. the economy was reeling. one-fourth of the work force was jobless, millions of americans were poor, hungry and hopeless. balancing the bargaining power of employers and employees, congress hoped to restore the nation to economic prosperity. giving workers the right to organize and bargain collectively would allow them to stand up to corporate power and
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demand higher wages, thereby increasing their incomes and their purchasing power. that, in turn, would increase consumption and demand for goo goods, increasing production and, in fact, increasing employment. as a former nlrb chairman, wilma leadman said -- and she wrote this, and i'm quoting -- "the law was enacted less as a favor to labor than to save capitalism from itself." we know that before the new deal, the federal and state governments, the courts and the law had all been hostile to the collective rights of workers in their struggles against corporate power. for decades going back to the late 1800's, the majority of production workers in america's heavy industries had labor in harsh -- had labored, i should say, in harsh and often dangerous conditions for low wages, with little security.
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i know this from my own family's history but i also know it from my own -- the history of my own region of northeastern pennsylvania, the so-called hard coal or an thro an anthrocyte rf pennsylvania. steven coal talked about the coal mines in my home county, and he talked about all the way a miner could lose his life in the coal mines. and i'll incorporate for the record that part of steven crane's essay about the coal mines. and i'd ask consent that i -- that be made part of the record. i'll make sure that a copy is forthcoming. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: when unions sprang up to defend the rights of workers, they were treated as illegal conspiracies, ruthlessly smashed by companies that either used violence or called on the police or military to defend their interests.
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the unions rarely made more than temporary gains. when america began to industrialize in the 1800's, the relationship between workers and their bosses changed dramatically. craftwork by skilled employees was replaced by mass production, with hundreds or even thousands of people working for a single impersonal corporation. giant, powerful entities generally treated their workers like faceless, expendable commodities. inputs into the production process whose costs had to be kept low in order to maximize profits in the incomes of robber barons. that was certainly true in my home state of pennsylvania. the corporations amassed enormous wealth but the employees were mostly left behind with lives of misery and hardship. in pittsburgh, for example in pittsburgh, for example, the western corner of our state, a remarkable in-depth sociological study by the russell sage foundation of the lives of
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working families in the early 1900's found widespread grinding poverty and child labor, poor health and education, and astonishing levels of work-related injury and illness. in allegheny county, where pittsburgh is, with a thousand -- with a million residents, more than 500 workers died in industrial accidents in a single year, most of them in the steel mills. the same was true in the coal mines. give you, by way of example, in 1907, 1,516 workers were killed in the coal mines of pennsylvania. and over about a 98-year period, 31,047 known fatalities in the coal mines of pennsylvania. the united states -- if the united states today had a proportional number of occupational fatalities as they in pittsburgh when 500 workers died, the number would be 150,000 workers today losing
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their life on the job. workers were chewed up and discarded with no worker's compensation system and no hope of suing the corporation for negligence. the law of labor relations was seriously unbalanced. whereas business owners were able to act collectively, joining together in corporations to be treated as kind of a special kind of person under the law, while escaping individual liability for corporation acts, unions were sometimes treated as criminal conspiracies, their strikes were considered illegal restraints against trade, and courts intervened to issue injunctions to hold unions liable for the acts of their members. when workers tried to form unions to defend themselves or to win a fairer share of the profits, they were usually met by fierce resistance by employers, fueling anger and resentment, often leading to violence. in one of the most famous and -- i should say infamous tragediesh
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for ten years had a collective bargaining contract with his skilled employees at the homestead plant but decided in 1892 during an economic depression both to cut the employees' wages and to destroy the union. and i won't go into the whole story today -- we don't have time -- but suffice it to say that the union was crushed completely because of the actions of -- of that steel company and then steel companies after it. then you move forward in the history, when demand for their products dried up in the great depression, many businesses cut both wages and hours, further depressing workers' incomes and purchasing power. in president franklin d. roosevelt's first year in office in 1933, he pushed through congress the national industrial recovery act, one of whose main purposes was to encourage companies to recognize their unions and to bargain with them. f.d.r. and labor secretary francis perkins were convinced that raising wages and thereby
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increasing consumer demand was essential to lift the economy and put people back to work. unfortunately, the entity that the act created to encourage collective bargaining, the national labor board, as it was called at the time, had no power to compel the compliance with the new law. union membership soared but the companies continued to resist collective bargaining or recognize sham company unions they controlled, effectively barrening with themselves rather than with the -- bargaining with themselves rather than with the real representatives of the workers. instead of an orderly, efficient act -- or system, i should say, the act produced chaos. the supreme court ruled that the act was beyond the powers of congress under the commerce clause of the constitution. so what happened then? well, senator robert wagner of new york started over and drafted the national labor relations act of 1935. it passed quickly and survived constitutional challenge in the supreme court. the new law required companies to recognize unions as the
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exclusive representative of their employees when they could prove majority representation. it gave the new board the authority to conduct electionso bargain in good faith over wages and working conditions. it outlawedham, company-owned -- or company-dominated unions and it protected employees from violations by employers of their right to join a union or to engage in strikes or other protected concerted activities, such as handbilling or picketing. the board itself was given the power to require employers to hire -- hire backfired workers to pay lost wages with interest, and to agree not to break the law in the future. for a time, the new law worked. as wilma leadman said, the national labor relations boar board -- she was on the board, i should say, for 14 years -- she said recently -- quote -- "over the next decades, millions of workers voted for union representation and nlrb conducted elections and millions achieved a middle-class way of
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life through collective bargaining and agreements that provided for fair wages and benefits in major industries of the economy." at the peak of union power, 35% of workers were covered by union contracts. they won higher wages, job security and other benefits and american family incomes grew by an average of 2.8% per year from 1947-1973. let me say that again. almost a 3% increase in family incomes from 1947-1973, with every sector of the economy seeing its income roughly double. due to a number of factors, union membership as a share of private-sector employment has declined from that 35% to less than 7% today. so we -- we know that our history tells us not only is the act important for the union members and for their families, but it's also very important for the middle class.
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no one thinks that the national labor relations board by itself will be able to restore balance to america's incomes, restore the purchasing power of the middle class, but the board itself can help make a difference, especially if congress repairs decades, decades, of damage to the rights of unions and employees to organize, bargain and, if nessy,o, in fact, strike. the employee free choice act would have been a good start in that campaign of repair and restoration. tens of millions of americans today are working at poverty wages. by one estimate, 28% of workers are paid at a poverty level wage or less. people who work hard for a living deserve a path to a decent economic future. workers today are better off than the average worker surveyed in pittsburgh a hundred years ago, as i cited earlier. but their lives are getting harder every year and they are not sharing in our ever-growing
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national wealth. i hope we can begin a process of reviving collective bargaining soon, but first -- first we must end the disgrace of leaving the nation's most important labor relations agency without leadership. it is shameful if we allow this to continue to happen. the recent record of obstruction of nominations in the senate is, in a word, unacceptable and should be unacceptable to every american. it's time to confirm the president's nominees to the national labor relations board to give certainty to workers and to business as we continue to recover and create jobs. mr. president, as i leave, i would go back to the words -- the few short words i'll read from the -- the opening findings and policies in the national labor relations act. quote -- "experience has proved that protection by law of the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively
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safeguards commerce from injury, impairment or interruption and promotes the free flow of commerce by removing certain recognized sources of industrial strife and unrest." and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with and that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: mr. president, yesterday morning i called for the immediate resignation of acting i.r.s. commissioner steven miller in light of the i.r.s.'s admission that it targeted conservative groups for inappropriate scrutiny. while i was willing to give mr. miller and other i.r.s. officials the benefit of the doubt until the facts were in, the treasury inspector general report released on tuesday has erased any doubts as to the severity of the misconduct and
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blatant incompetence in dealing with it at the highest levels of the i.r.s. i'm pleased that president obama chose to heed the call that i made and others as well by dismissing mr. miller last nig night. this is a necessary step but only a first step toward restoring the credibility and the integrity of the i.r.s. this scandal is much larger than any one official within the i.r.s. any government official who knew about the misconduct within the i.r.s. and decided not to make this information public should be held accountable. no american taxpayer should ever have to worry that a group they belong to or a view that they espouse will subject them to less favorable tax treatment by their government, yet the i.g. report has unfortunately confirmed this political profiling is exactly what happened. the misconduct by the i.r.s. is troubling for a host of reasons, but there are two questions yet to be answered that i find particularly troubling. first, how was the improper
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targeting of i.r.s. agents allowed to continue for more than 18 months before it was finally brought to an end? secondly, how did the internal i.r.s. process involve so many high-level i.r.s. officials yet remain hidden from the public and from congress for more than two years? former commissioner miller was quoted yesterday as saying the i.r.s. misconduct was a result of two rogue employees in cincinnati who were overall aggressive, yet we now know from the i.g. report that the i.r.s.'s attempt to deal with the targeting of conservative groups went through numerous high-level i.r.s. officials in washington. we know that as early as march of 2010, i.r.s. officials in washington were involved in applying special scrutiny to tea party and other applications with conservative-sounding names. according to the i.g. report, the head of the i.r.s. exempt organizations division and the i.r.s. chief counsel became aware of this targeting almost 2011years ago in the summer of
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let's be clear. the scandal here isn't simply a few rogue employees. the real scandal is an entire bureaucratic structure within the i.r.s. that allowed this targeting to go on for 18 months. behind me, mr. president, is the organizational chart from the i.g. report showing all the offices that were involved in dealing with the improper targeting of conservative groups. as you can see, of the 12 offices on this chart, only two of these offices are based in cincinnati. the other ten offices are in washington, d.c. this particular office here was the office that the current acting, or until just last night acting commissioner steven miller held. but as you can see, mr. president, this is lifted directly from the inspector general's report. this is a -- this is an organizational chart that suggests that the two offices in cincinnati were a small part of a much bigger web of offices and individuals that were involved
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with this. yet, the situation, even though it may have started with a few rogue employees in cincinnati, but the idea that somehow it was confined to that one small part of the i.r.s. is simply untrue. it's also misleading to suggest that the i.r.s. has been anything other than secretive and resistant to calls for greater transparency when it comes to the agency's handling of conservative groups. we now know that then-deputy commissioner miller was made aware of inappropriate targeting of conservative groups as early as may of 2012. yet for a year, mr. miller did not bring this information to the attention of the public or congress. in june and august of 2012, i joined with fellow republican senators on the finance committee in sending letters to the i.r.s. regarding reports that the i.r.s. was requiring conservative 501-c-4's to disclose their donors and expressing concerns that the i.r.s. may change regulations affecting these groups in response to political pressures.
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the i.r.s. responses to these letters did not acknowledge any special treatment of conservative groups. in november, mr. miller became the acting i.r.s. commissioner, and in this capacity, he testified before the senate finance committee regarding the issue of tax fraud and i.d. theft. he did not take this opportunity to make remarks or to comment on the subject of targeting conservative groups. time and time again, high-level i.r.s. officials deliberately avoided disclosing information regarding the targeting of conservative groups. mr. president, the american people deserve to know that action will be taken to ensure the i.r.s. will never participate in this kind of partisanship again, and they deserve to know that leaders of such agencies will be held accountable for such breaches of trust. these actions undermine the confidence the american people have in the i.r.s. to objectively and transparently
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administer our nation's tax laws. these actions by the i.r.s. are a continuation of a troubling trend from the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history. all of these incidents are beginning to add up to a growing credibility gap between this administration under president obama and the high standard of public service that the american people deserve. and now, thanks to obamacare, the i.r.s. will also be administering parts of the health care law. the i.r.s.'s power will grow as they become responsible for determining whether americans have satisfied the government mandate to have health insurance and whether the government will pay for part of that coverage through refundable tax credits. as noted by the national taxpayer advocate nina olson, obamacare is, and i quote, the most extensive social benefit program the i.r.s. has been asked to implement in recent history, end quote. and, mr. president, as i previously mentioned, this isn't
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the only obamacare-related scandal that's come to light this week. over the weekend, "the washington post" reported that secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius has been soliciting donations from health care executives to fund left-leaning organizations that are trying to work hand in hand with h.h.s. to enroll individuals in obamacare exchanges. if these reports are accurate, the actions taken by the secretary represent a serious, serious conflict of interest. companies and organizations should never be pressured for money because it sends the message that contributions are necessary to secure favorable regulatory decisions, creating a pay-to-play environment. earlier this week, david axelrod, a former senior advisor to president obama, said that it isn't possible for the president to be aware of all these problems in government because government is simply too big. well, it's mind blowing to consider how large the federal government is and how the one
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individual responsible for this $3.6 trillion entity can't even keep tabs on all the activity. perhaps, mr. president, this is exactly why we should be focused on policies that shrink the size of government so it can be more transparent and more accountable to citizens in this country. chief justice john marshall in the opinion of macculloch versus maryland, and i quote, wrote the power to tax is the power to destroy, end quote. those words still ring true nearly 200 years later. this administration is using one of its greatest powers, the power to tax, to destroy one of the people's strongest god-given rights, the right to free political speech. this isn't just an attack on certain conservative groups. it's an attack on all of our rights to assemble and to
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express free political speech without the fear of repercussion from our government. mr. president, president obama has a long ways to go to restore public confidence and to stop the growing credibility gap that so far has plagued his second term. i look forward next week as we have on tuesday an i.r.s. oversight hearing in the finance committee where i hope we can begin the process of reining in a government agency that has run amok. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. reed: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i would yield the floor and ask for the calling of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: i would ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. i've been watching today as various speakers have come to the floor, and i want to just joan in the outrage about what has happened over there at the i.r.s.. the idea that the i.r.s. would pick specific groups and target them -- in this case apparently they used the name patriot and
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they searched through incoming applications for these 501-c-4's. they used the term tea party, and they were obviously focusing on one side of the political spectrum. they shouldn't have done that. there's no doubt that people that are writing me, that people in america have watched this, feel a sense of outrage. and they should be outraged. they're outraged. i'm outraged. and one of the things we have to understand as a result of this is that the i.r.s. has tremendous power. it has the power to audit. it has the power to request information. it has the power to refer for criminal conduct. i think in many cases the i.r.s. is probably more feared than prosecutors' offices, who also have tremendous power. and as many know, i've had some
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real experience there, being a federal prosecutor, being a state attorney general; that's power that should be used in a very, very careful way. and you don't pick one part of the political spectrum and target people when you're entering a phase of a prosecution or an audit as the i.r.s. was doing. and i think our president, who is a lawyer, understands that. and president obama has called for the top i.r.s. official's resignation, and that official has resigned, and that is the right thing to do. such action is inexcusable. no one disputes that. more disciplinary action is likely. the f.b.i. is investigating, and i hope they do a full, thorough and complete investigation. and, of course, as i said before the, the i.r.s. should not be
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targeting specific sides of the political spectrum. but, you know, in thinking about this, there posts another failure here, and -- there's another failure here and we should talk about that at the same time. the i.r.s. does not have clear rules for nonprofit groups and political activity. we need transparency about what is allowed and what is not allowed. and those rules should be applied to all groups across the board on all sides of the political spectrum. front groups for huge amounts of campaign money are continually allowed to file false statements with the i.r.s. and get away with it. over and over again they do this. this is wrong, whether the group is liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, this is wrong across the board. how did this happen? we know that lots of secretive groups want to funnel cash to
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influence elections, to get their candidates elected. but campaign finance rules are supposed to have transparency. how did these groups, left or right, keep their money secret? they hide behind an organization that's listed with the i.r.s. called the 501-c-4. they ask for permission under the i.r.s. to be a 501-c-4 status organization. this is a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation regulated by the i.r.s.. these groups have one big hurdle to jump through. the 501-c-4 -- and i quote -- "for the promotion welfare." the law the congress wroept says it -- wrote says it must be exclusively for social welfa
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that's the law congress wrote. it seems pretty clear doesn't it? it seems like congress was saying what it intended here. but the i.r.s. muddied the water by deciding exclusively actually means primarily. primarily engaged in social welfare activity means at least 51% of the time. not 100% of the time. 51% of the time. to me, this is baffling, and it is completely misguided. but to make it more confusing, the i.r.s. regulations state that the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf or in opposition to any candidate for public office. to establish a 501-c-4 corporation, the organizers must file a form with the i.r.s. pledging that they do not plan
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to sphoepbd to influence e-- they do not plan to spend money to influence elections. it appears many of these groups have lied on their applications for nonprofit status. it also appears they're allowed to get away with it. that is corrupt, and it is also a crime. and nothing appears to be done about it. that is a scandal right there, as the i.r.s. stands by, as these groups, whatever their political affiliation, mock federal tax laws. the center for responsive politics noted that in the 2012 election, 501-c-4 groups spent $254 million to support or oppose candidates. so why would someone donate to a 501-c-4 instead of giving money to the parties or to the campaigns of candidates they support? simple. to avoid disclosure.
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to avoid disclosure. if someone gives $1,000 to a political campaign, that is required to be reported, and the donor is known. it's out there. it's in the public. but if you give $1,000 to a 501-c-4, that money is improperly engaging in political activity, and the public remains in the dark. so if you give $1,000 to a 501-c-4, nobody knows about it, but it can go out under these rules and engage in political activity. this secret money is a bipartisan outrage. they are seeking to influence elections, not promote social welfare. this has to change. i have long argued that it must change since 2010, many of us have come to this floor calling for vitally needed reforms,
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demanding we change the way we do business here. i believe that requires a constitutional amendment overturning the disastrous buckley and citizens united decisions by the supreme court, restoring to congress and the states the authority to regulate elections. we have also pushed for the disclose act. that legislation would have taken the i.r.s. out of the business of investigating these groups, a job it is failing to do anyway. it would have required open reporting with the federal election commission. the disclose act doesn't ban any group, but it does say the american people have a right to know who is trying to influence their vote, who is paying for all those ads on television. there's a saying in washington from the watergate era: "follow the money." follow the money, that's what i'm trying to do. where does the money come tpr-p and where is the money going?
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not a single republican voted for the disclose act. not one. in fact, they filibustered it, blocked it from an up-or-down vote. partisan bias and abuse by the i.r.s. cannot be tolerated. president obama is not tolerating it. but americans are also fed up with the deception by shadowy groups that continue to drown our elections in anonymous cash. the fact that these secret political money groups also serve as tax breaks for extremely wealthy people adds insult to injury. we need clear rules from the i.r.s.. exclusive means exclusive, in my book. exclusive means exclusive. when the congress says exclusive, it means exclusive. and we need to enforce those rules equally on all applicants for the tax-except status, every single one.
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if you are a charity or true social welfare organization, you should not pay taxes. there's no need to publicize your donors. but if you're looking to ericans vote, the votes shouldow know who you are. there must beosur very least. in closing, i will say we have to change the way we do business. the failure of i.r.s. bureaucrats, billionaires writing political checks but hiding in the shadows and avoiding taxes, this has to change. the time has come to change this. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: mr. president, i'm honored, actually privileged to
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stand here today and to say a good word on behalf of ernest moniz, also known as dr. ernest moniz and one of the my favorite people from the world of abg -- academia. i have a bio. it's not very long. dr. ernest moniz is the see s*eut sill and -- cecil ida green professor at m.i.t. where he served since 1973, focused on energy technology and policy. dr. moniz served as the director of the m.i.t. initiative and laboratory for energy and the environment. from 1997-2001, dr. moniz served as under secretary of the department of energy. prior to that time, he served as the associate director for science in the office of science and technology policy and the executive office of the president from 1995-199
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in addition to his work at m.i.t. and the department of energy, dr. moniz has served on any number of boards of directors and commissions, including the president's council of advisors on science and technology from 2009 until today. the department of defense threat reduction advisory committee from 2010 until today. and on the blue-ribbon commission on america's nuclear future from 2010-2012. dr. moniz is a fellow of the american association for the advancement of science, the humbolt foundation, and the american physical society. in 1998, he received the seymore cray hppc industry recognition award for vision, for leadership in advancing scientific simulation. dr. moniz received a bachelor of science degree summa cum laude in physics from boston college and a docke doctorate in theorel physics from stanford
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university. i've been privileged to know this man for a number of years. our older son was an undergraduate, mechanical engineer at m.i.t., graduated a few years ago. i remember holding a field hearing and -- at m.i.t., oh, gosh, about a half dozen or so years ago, and dr. moniz was one of our witnesses. and the thing -- among the things that i liked about him is he's so approachable. he's just -- we all hear the term "good guy." he's just a really good guy. sometimes we think of somebody as a professor, ivy tower and kind of out of touch, unable to communicate and connect with people. he couldn't be more different from -- from that car caricatur. he is a real person. he's really smart. and he's able to explain things as a professor and he's able to explain really complex concepts, whether it happens to be nuclear energy or clean coal or, you name, it he's actually to be able to just explain these things so even i can understand. he has a wonderful sense of humor. he's a guy who likes working
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with -- if you happen to be a young person or an older person, a democrat or republican, he -- he just works well with all of them. smart as a whip. got a great -- a great way about him. approachable. very can-do sort of attitude. and i'm just -- i think the president's made a great choice here. i think to ernie and to his family, i really appreciate his willingness to serve in a lot of capacities already and now to be willing to serve in this capacity, hopefully it's good for him and for his life and for his family. i think it's certainly going to be good for our country. so we -- we appreciate that. i just want to say to my colleagues who haven't had a chance to get to know him, i think you're going to like him a lot and you'll enjoy working with him. i certainly v. the other thing i want to say -- i certainly have. the other thing i want to say, i've stood here just this week talking about executive branch swiss cheese where you have in the executive branch of our federal government too many positions that don't have someone confirmed for those
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positions. in some cases, the administration's been derelict in terms of sending us nominations because they spend forever vetting nominations because they don't want to send somebody to us that has even a flaw or a blemish. and as a result, it's been i think entirely too much time vetting nominees. so we wait further no nominees. in some cases when they get here, even when they're really good, really good, really well-qualified, we -- we delay those nominations further. sometimes -- some days we -- what is it, democrat or republican president, we put the nominees not through torture but something pretty close to it. we need good people to be willing to serve and when they stop up and say they're willing to -- step up and say they're willing to serve, we need to process, vet notices nominations, scrub them -- avet those nominations, cub them hard but then at the end of the day we need to move forward. we took a small and important step today in the environmental protection agency committee, we voted out jean mccarthy to be
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administrator of the e.p.a. she's enormously well qualified. she's already been confirmed for the air side. in the past, she's served with five republican governors. smart, hardworking, great credentials, approachable, somebody who's able to understand things, explain things and they'll do a great job. we've had a hard time being able to move her nomination out of environmental protection agency -- environment and public works committee. today we were joined by our republican colleagues to be there. unfortunately, none of them voted to report her nomination out. my open is that we have -- we have reported her out, unfortunately on a straight party-line vote. my hope is we'll have an opportunity to -- to -- to do really what we did a number of years ago, about seven or eight years ago, mike leavitt, former governor of utah, was nominated to be head of help expep there was some delay -- e.p.a. and there was some delay in his nomination. we had a markup, a business
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meeting scheduled to consider his nomination. the democrats boycotted that meeting and we had to wait for a couple of weeks and had another meeting and democrats showed up, we reported him out with democratic support and later we voted for his nomination. big bipartisan vote. i think over 70, 80 votes in favor of his nomination. my hope is that's what we'll do with jean mccarthy. she deserves a vote and i think from my spur speculative, she deserves -- perspective, she deserves a positive, affirmative vote. but anyway, we've got ernie moniz coming our way in 20 or 30 minutes. i hope my colleagues will join me and others in giving him a big vote and sending him to work for our country one more time. with that, i yield the floor. mr. graham: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: i'd like unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with my colleagues from georgia. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: okay. thank you. this is about dr. ernie moniz' appointment to be secretary of energy.
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i put a hold on dr. moniz not because anything to do with him. he's a wonderful fella. m.i.t. professor. he's been intimately associated with the department of energy, including the mox program. and all of us in georgia and south carolina look forward to working with him. what we've been upset about is that the obama administration -- is at the obama administration's decision to stop construction temporarily of the mox facility. it's about 60% complete. what is mox? it is a program to take 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium in excess of our defense needs and dispose of it by turning it into commercial-grade fuel. it is enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 17,000 warheads. and in 2000, the -- there was an agreement between the united states and russia. they would dispose of 34 metric tons, we would dispose of 34 metric tons, and we've been
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studying how to do that. and in 2010, the federal government, the obama administration in the agreement with the russians to move forward said that we would mox the 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, we would turn it into mixed oxide fuel to be used in commercial reactors, it's a deck nolg deployed in -- technology deployed i in france and that ws the way to move forward to. the administration's credit, we're finally moving forward. we went to the facility ourselves, senator isakson and senator chambliss, a couple years ago and finally saw the thing moving forward. it's about 60% built. now in the budget proposal of the president, they've stopped construction to study an alternative. there is no other alternative. if you tried to turn it into vitrified glass material, that would take more money and more time than doing mox and it hasn't been proven to work the way it's set up today. at the end of the day, the
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problems that we should be focusing on is the cost overruns of the mo dox program. it's about $2 billion over cost. and i would join with the administration to sit down with the contractor and try to recoup that $2 billion, to find a way forward to make it affordable. there's statutes in place that require a $100 million-a-year fine to be paid to the state of south carolina if we don't meet our disposition goals. last year we extended that statute by two years because we don't want the fine money, we want the mox program. it's good for the country. it's good for the world. and now that we've stopped to study, our fear is that we're not -- we're stopping and studying an alternative that doesn't exist, that can't be cheaper than the $2 billion. the technology that they're -- there is no other way to do it. we've been studying this for about 15 years and we'll be breaking the agreement with the russians. other than that, we don't have a problem with what they're doing. what we want to do is sit down
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with the contractor and the administration to lower costs of the program but keep it moving forward. this administration has talked consistently about reducing nuclear proliferation and making the world safer from the use of nuclear materials. this is a program that started in the clinton administration, bush, now obama that really would accomplish that. 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough to make 17,000 warheads, would be taken off the market forever. a sword becomes a ploughshare by making comeecial-grade fuel out of t. it's a good program. we need to complete the program. and the reason we put a hold on the no, ma'am neef the secretary of energy is to -- nominee of the secretary of energy, is to get everybody's attention. we've been talking with the administration. we hope we can resolve this. but we're here today to speak for georgia and south carolina. we agree with the federal government. we want to take this 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium years ago with the understanding it would leave south carolina
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and not affect the environment of south carolina and georgia in a permanent way, and we're very d.o.e. friendly in south carolina and georgia. the savannah river site's right on the border. there's almost as many people from georgia working in the site as there is from south carolina. so my colleagues from georgia have been absolutely terrific. and at the end of the day, we're going to be insistent that the federal government keep its commitment to the state of south carolina and georgia and to the russians. we're going to make sure that we dispose of this weapons-grade plutonium and we're going to be more cost-conscious about it. but we're going to let secretary moniz, ernie moniz, become secretary of energy here in about 40 minutes. i'm going to vote for him. but i will continue to slow down the process and make life incredibly miserable if we can't find an accommodation that i think is fair. my state, the state of georgia has really been a good partner with the federal government and department of energy on energy issues. several years ago when i first became a senator -- and i think
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it was 2002-2003 -- we agreed to leave some waste in the bottom of about 50 tanks that contained high-level waste material from the cold war era from reactors at savannah river site used to make tritium to help fuel hydrogen bombs. and by leaving a small amount in the bottom of the tank, the heel, and filling it up with concrete, we were able to save $16 billion in cleanup costs. instead of scraping it all out, sending it to yucca mountain, which never came about, we were able to leave a small amount in a way to not hurt the environment of south carolina and georgia. but now in this budget, they're reducing the tank closure by $106 million. you can't do it that way. you can't get us to help save money for the federal government and take on i think a reasonable risk -- not much of a risk at all -- then short us. i mean, people are going to stop
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dealing with the federal government, republican or democratic administrations, when it comes to nuclear materials if this is going to be the way we do business. people in georgia and south carolina have been very accommodating. we appreciate the savannah river site. it is a wonderful d.o.e. facility. we're proud of it. we're proud of the employees. but we're not going to be taken advantage of. so here's what we're asking. we're asking for the administration to sit down with us and others who care about this to find a way to lower the cost of the mox construction but continue forward with the construction and get the mox facility up and running so we can honor our comim to th commie russians and get this weapons-grade plutonium off the market. count us in in terms of lowering costs. count us out when it comes to stopping the program in the middle, trying to find an alternative that doesn't exist. now, as to the tanks -- you're going to honor your commitment. the federal government is going to honor its commitment to the people of south carolina and
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georgia to get these tanks closed up on time and on schedule, and we have, again, saved $16 billion over the life of the close-up plan for the tanks just by being reasonable. and when it comes to mox, there were three facilities planned to take the weapons-grade plutonium and turn it into a commercial-grade fuel. we were able to consolidate two of the facilities into one and save $2 billion. i'm all for saving money but i'm also all for keeping one's word. and to our friends in the administration, we will work with you when we can, fight you when we must, but when it comes to this, i hope there will be a lot of bipartisanship for the delegations of south carolina and georgia to make sure that we honor the commitment entered into between the federal government and the state of south carolina that will affect our friends in georgia and keep this program moving. we're not asking for too much. as a matter of fact, we're insisting on you holding up your end of the bargain because we've
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held up our end of the bargain. and to our friends in the administration, let's see if we can solve this problem. but to my colleagues in this body, i would hope that i would have the good judgment commonsense to support you if you found yourself in this position, trying to do something good for the nation and have it get off the rail. i hope i would be willing to help you when it comes to something like this. it is very difficult to deal with these high-level waste issues, particularly weapons-grade plutonium. when you find somebody who's willing to be reasonable and helpful, the last thing you need to do is change the rules in the middle of the game. with that, i would recognize senator isakson and just quickly ask him, from your point of vi view, do you see this as a fundamental breach of the agreement we've had for years? what affect do you think it would have on our nonproliferation agenda and how does it affect south carolina and georgia?
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mr. isakson: first of all, i want to thank the senator from south carolina for his leadership on this issue. i'm proud to join the senior senator from georgia, saxby chambliss, and in effect join sam nunn, a former senator from south carolina, and which brought about the treaty of 2000 which calls for the reduction of 68 metric tons of nuclear material. and i would answer your question, senator graham, by saying this, with another question. where else in the united states of america are there two states willing to accept nuclear plutonium, reprocess it into fuel rod for commercial use and do it safely and have dealt with nuclear materials for over 50 years? that's georgia and south carolina. the idea that you can fund a study to look for an alternative is laughable. that's just merely a smoke screen for the current administration's position. and the senator is exactly right. senator chambliss and i, senator scott, senator graham, we are happy to sit down with the administration, look at the cost overrun on the facility, find
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ways to find savings, but the dumbest economic decision in the world would be to stop the process when you're half finished because then you waste every dime that's already been spent and you have to spend even more money on an alternative that does not exist. so i want to add my support to the remarks of senator graham and my state's support to reprocess plutonium that's weapons-grade plutonium into reprocessed materials that fuel power plants and commercial opportunities. that's a good use. that's a good way to get rid of this nuclear material, and it's also a good way to keep it out of the hands of a terrorist. if we don't destroy it, it lays around in russia or anywhere else, it's always suspect of being stolen or being used in a way none of us would ever want. i thank the senator for his leadership. mr. graham: i thank senator isakson. senator scott is with us at every step. but johnny, you have been terrific. i want to let everybody in georgia know that when it sames to savannah river site, we have worked as a team for years. i just can't thank you enough. senator chambliss is one of the leading national security
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experts in the senate, and he has been imminently involved with the program. we have an agreement with the russians, they will dispose of their 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, enough to create 17,000 warheads in russia, and we have agreed to do the same. if we are seen to stop and not honor our commitment, what do you think would -- what reaction would the russians have, and is it smart to delay this program in the times in which we live because i worry about the materials being compromised, not so much in south carolina and georgia, but very much in russia. could you please tell us your thoughts about that? mr. chambliss: mr. president, just like my colleague from georgia, senator isakson, i want to thank senator graham for his leadership on this issue. he's right. we have been to the facility a number of times to examine what is going on over there, and it's great work being done by highly trained, highly educated individuals to deal with one of
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e mtive products that we have in this country, and you're exactly right, senator graham, that there are significant consequences from an international standpoint if the numbers in the president's budget are allowed to stand. and that's why we have had conversations with a number of individuals currently at the department of energy and while we had a conversation with dr. montana -- dr. moniz in preparation for his confirmation by this body, and those discussions have led to the fact that, as you say, we are willing and we have got their agreement that they are willing to sit down with a contractor and let's talk about money. that's what the real issue is because we are talking about a budget item and whether or not we can afford to do this, and if we don't involve the contractor, then obviously we can't get that number down to a manageable number. so again, with your leadership, we look forward to working with dr. moniz and others with
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respect to sitting down with a contractor and coming to some resolution of the ultimate budget number that's going to be needed. with respect to -- to russia, i mean, here we are, the president met with president medvedev in 2010, and the two of them in a press conference talked about the mox facility and the agreement on mox, and here we are three years later with this president submitting a budget number that in fact -- in effect starves this program and would have the obvious intended result of eliminating this program and thus breaking his word with president medvedev in 2010, and also breaking the united states agreement with russia. that has the potential to have very serious consequences on the
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international stage. also abandoning the project is going to have severe economic impacts to both the state of georgia and the state of south carolina because of the individuals that have been working there for now senator isakson said 50 years. we -- it's also going to strand up to 64 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, and where else is it going to go? there is no place for it to go. there is no state jumping up and down saying please bring your uranium and your plutonium to my state and we will deal with it. you can transport it into my state. in fact, the exact opposite is happening. it was intended that we would process plutonium and it would ultimately be shipped to yucca mountain as senator graham alluded to. now the state of nevada is saying no, they are throwing their hands up and saying we don't want that processed
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material in our state because it is hazardous waste. well, what we are saying is we're happy doing what we're doing because we have got the -- those trained, sophisticated professionals that know how to deal with this hazardous material. they do an outstanding job of this. we have spent billions of dollars constructing the facilities to the point to where they are 40% away from being completed now, and if we just accept the president's budget, then we're going to have wasted all of that money in the construction phase of the buildings that are there, mr. president, and also we're -- we're not going to have anywhere to put this 64 metric tons of hazardous material, weapons-grade plutonium. so this stands to have economic impacts to our part of the country. it stands to certainly create international issues with the russians if we break our
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agreement with them. and then also just as significantly, it leaves 64 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium outstanding with nowhere to go with it, nowhere to store it. so the mox project was designed to deal with a very sophisticated issue years and years and years ago, and it just makes no sense whatsoever to stop in the middle of it now and saying well, we just don't have the money to take care of something that is as hazardous and potentially as life-threatening as what this weapons-grade plutonium is. we do need to spend our money wisely. we have got to be careful. but, mr. president, there are agreements that we need to honor. there are certain aspects of governing that need to be done and need to be done in the right way, and this is simply one of
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those. so with the continued leadership of senator graham and senator isakson and senator scott, i look forward to us sitting down with dr. moniz once he is confirmed and we're all going to vote to confirm him today e has so much knowledge about this. one thing we failed to mention is that he's the guy that negotiated the agreement, and he's the guy that the president is saying well, we know you -- you, with these very difficult times in negotiating the agreement with the russians, but to heck with your agreement, to heck with all the work you did. thank goodness, his attitude is that look, i want to work with you and we want to find a way forward on this, and we look forward to his confirmation being completed, to sitting down with he and the contractor and let's figure out a way that we can make this project the success that it -- continued success it has been thus far and also move itward.
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with that, mr. president, i would yield back to senator graham. mr. graham: thankou, senator chambliss. senator reed, would you like -- mr. reed: could i request unanimous consent to be recognized as if in morning business after senator graham has completed his remarks? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: just to conclude, i want to thank both of my colleagues. you have been great partners on this issue and many others, and we have tried to be good partners with the federal government. we were proud of all that has been accomplished over the last 50 years. as we go into a new phase of trying to get rid of cold war materials, 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium here and in russia, 60% completion of the mox program. as to the $2 billion overrun, that is not lost upon me as being a lot of money. that's a lot of money. but what i am telling my fellow members of the body here and the country as a whole, there is no way you can find an alternative to mox cheaper than that $2 billion. it's just not possible. we have been studying this thing
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forever, and in the agreement itself with the russians, it specifically says mox and it prohibits us as a nation from burying the plutonium. so this is the way forward. and i promise the members of the body and the administration, we will lower the cost overruns. i promise. but this is a complicateed scientific endeavor, but we will lower the cost overruns. what we will not do is stop the program when it is 60% complete and study an alternative that has no possibility of coming about scientifically and could never lower costs and interrupt a disposition of this weapons-grade plutonium and breach the agreement with the russians. we will not be a party to that. we will keep talking as to mr. moniz who will be an outstanding secretary of energy. we look forward to working with him. and i appreciate my colleagues coming down and joining in this colloquy and putting everything on the record about savannah river site mox, and with that, i
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will yield back and recognize senator reed. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, before i begin my remarks, i would ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of my remarks, senator chambliss be recognized for up to ten minutes to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you very much. july 1 is less than seven weeks away. unless we act, the interest rate on student-based loans will rise from 3.4% to 6.8%. student loan debt is second only to mortgage debt for american families. now is not the time to add to student loan debt by allowing the interest rate on need-based student loans to double. i have worked with chairman harkin, leader reid and many of my colleagues to develop a fully offset two-year extension of the current student loan interest rate. instead of larging low and moderate income students more for their student loans, the student loan affordability act will keep rates where they are while closing loopholes in the
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federal tax code. we should take this legislation up and pass it without delay. one of my concerns is -- and i know many of my colleagues, including myself, are working on longer term solutions that more accurately reflect market rates, but my concern is frankly that we will run up against this july deadline and we won't have the longer term solution in place. we have to do something. and that's why i would urge we pick up this legislation as quickly as possible. our first priority must be to reassure students and families that the interest rate will not double from 3.4% to 6.8% on july 1. we have to do that. and then we can work towards a longer term solution. we also owe it to them to commit to this longer term solution, to develop an approach that will set interest rates and terms and conditions on all student loans that will be more reflective of market rates but also more
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beneficial to students and their families who are borrowing this money. senator durbin and i have put forward a long-term proposal that would set student loan interest rates based on the actual costs of operating the program, so the federal government would not be offering student loans at a profit. there are other long-term proposals on the table. some of them such as the one reported out of the education and work force committee in the house today, could actually leave students worse off than they would be if the rates were to double. we need to take the time to fully consider comprehensive solutions to our student loan debt crisis, solutions that will make college more affordable, not less so. rather than rushing to overhaul the federal student loan program without fully considering the impact on students and college affordability, the student loan affordability act will secure low interest rates until congress can act on the reauthorization of the higher
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education act. without swift congressional action, more than 7 million students will have to pay an estimated additional $1,000 for each loan. these are the students who need the help the most. 60% of dependent subsidized loan borrowers come from families with incomes of less than $60,000, while 80% of independent subsidized loan borrowers come from families with incomes below $40,000. unln proeplz that would balance the budget on the backs of students by charging them higher interest rates while making students vulnerable to exorbitant interest rates in the future, this legislation we're proposing will help college remain within reach and this legislation is fully paid for. specifically, the pay for's would be limiting the use of tax retirement accounts, close the corporate offshore tax loophole by restricting -- quote -- -- q-
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"stripping" and close the oil and gas tax loophole by treating oil from tar sands the same as other petroleum products. we should not be collecting additional revenue from students when we can eliminate wasteful spending in the tax code. and we should not allow -- not allow -- the interest rate to double on july 1. i hope all of my colleagues will support as the first step the two-year extension so we can truly come up with a thoughtful comprehensive approach to long-term student lending in the united states. and with that, i would yield back. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: i rise to speak about the resignation of steven miller. the request by president obama is too little too late, another example of the president continuing to search for a scapegoat for his own administration's misdeeds. the american people deserve trust, and this egregious abuse of power demonstrates the worst
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fears of the american people that they cannot trust their government. it's been two years since these incidents were first reported and while members of congress were led to believe that no malfeasance occurred, the details of the i.g. report were more shocking than we could have realized. many conservative groups were not only targeted for additional reviews but were harassed as well. moreover, mr. president, in some cases information was purposefully leaked by the internal revenue service. these actions are unacceptable. and while president obama's reaction seemed to be sincere, he has not yet demonstrated to the american people that all of those responsible will be brought to justice. above all, mr. president, we've got to make sure this never happens again. and i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. wyden: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vacate -- the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, i believe that we have run out of those here in the senate who wish to speak. i would just like to state again that this is a nominee who is supported by both senator murkowski and myself. this is a nominee who got an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the senate energy and natural resources committee. as i said earlier, i think he is an individual who is smart about energy policy. he is savvy about how the department of energy operates. and he is a solution-oriented person, and democrats and republicans in the senate energy and natural resources committee saw that in the confirmation process. there are huge challenges ahead
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of him at the department of energy, but i think he is very, very qualified for this position. i would urge all senators, democrats and republicans, to support the nominee. and with that, mr. president, i yield back all remaining time on both sides. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 97, the nays are zero, and the nomination is confirmed. a senator: move to reconsider. move to lay it on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid on the table and the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: madam president?
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madam president, i am here today on the floor again to ask that senate republicans stop blocking the step in regular order and allow us to move to a bipartisan budget conference with the house of representatives. we have waited long enough. in fact, we have now waited 54 days, and it is really time to get to work on a bipartisan budget agreement. on this side, senate democrats see no reason to delay this. we are very proud of our budget which puts forward a strong, fair vision for getting americans back to work and tackling our long-term debt and deficit challenges and really laying a strong foundation for the middle class in the future. it seems, madam president, that some of our republican colleagues in the senate and house would rather wait now until the next crisis and see if they can extract political concessions with the clock ticking, or maybe they don't want to air the details of the
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unpopular house budget. either way, there is no excuse for putting the american people through another round of partisan brinkmanship. we have already seen that that hurts our economy and it causes americans to question whether their government is really working for them. just yesterday, the house republicans met to talk about what they are going to demand in exchange for not tanking our economy. apparently they are considering, and i quote, a laundry list, including repealing obamacare which the house will vote on, by the way, for the 37th time today, and restrictions on women's health choices. you know, house republicans practice of leveraging crisises for their own gain died with the boehner rule and no amount of wishing is going to bring it back, because, madam president, house republicans may think brinkmanship helps them win political fights, but, madam president, it does not help our american families and communities, and that is who we
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are here to serve. so i urge our republican colleagues in the senate to take a step towards a republican bipartisan budget agreement and a step away from governing by crisis, and i now ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar numb 33, h. con. res. 25, that the amendment which is at the desk, the text of s. con. res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the senate be inserted in lieu thereof, that h. con. res. 25 as amended be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, that the senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the house on the disagreeing votes of the two houses and the chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the senate, all with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, reserving the right to object, we want to proceed to this as
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well. we want a budget. it's been four years. it's been far too long. what we want to avoid is a deal negotiated behind closed doors, a back-room deal to raise the debt limit. and so i would ask consent that the senator modify her request so that it not be in order for the senate to consider a conference report that includes reconciliation instructions to raise the debt limit. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: reserving the right to object, the senator's request is asking to disregard what the senate did on that -- on those dates, 54 days ago now, to go through over 100 amendments and defeat those amendments time and time again and go to conference, not behind closed doors, i would add. a conference committee is a committee that is out in the public. what is happening right now is closed doors agreements. what we are asking for is an open process where we are allowed to take the senate-passed budget and the house-passed budget and goeren e
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can agree so we can put this behind us, so i object to the senator's request and ask again for our -- our u.c. to move to budget conference, as we do in regular order, which is what the republicans have been demanding for a very long time. mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: objection is heard. does the senator from utah object? mr. lee: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from alabama. plaintiff sessions: california is without a budget and the democratic senate did act this year and passed a budget. the house has also passed a budget. it's a budget that is a historic budget. it balances in ten years. it doesn't raise taxes. mr. sessions: excuse me.
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it balances in ten years. it does not raise taxes. and it increases spending every year by as much as 3%. it's the right way to go for america, and it's the kind of budget we should be talking about. under regular order, chairman murray has indicated we should go regular order, but under regular order, what we do is we have the house budget at the desk right now. it's a responsible budget. under regular order, it should be brought to the floor under section 305-b of the congressional budget office. we need to have full debate on that budget with 50 hours and the ability to offer amendments. so, madam president, i think this is what we should be doing. instead, our democratic colleagues and senator reid have offered consent requests that short circuit the regular order. their request would automatically bring the house budget off the calendar, replace
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it entirely with the senate's own budget, and assume its passage without a single minute of debate or without a single vote being taken. that's not the regular order. so, madam president, first i would ask consent that after my rashes, senator inhofe be recognized. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. murray: madam president, i object. i would just like to respond to the senator. mr. sessions: i understand that. i'm sorry. so, madam president, i would ask consent that the senate now proceed to the consideration of calendar number 33, h. con. res. 35, the house-passed budget resolution for fiscal year 2014. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. murray: madam president, reserving the right to object, what the senator is requesting us to do is to take up the house-passed budget -- remember, we have passed a senate budget here. we had 50 hours of debate, over 100 amendments were offered. we voted on all of them way into
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the wee hours, 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. as everyone here will rightly remember. he is asking us to disregard all that action in the senate, take up the house bill, and have 50 hours more of debate, unlimited amendments, sitting here for weeks at a time again to go through all the amendments, a, madam president, that's a waste of taxpayer money, it's a waste of our time. we have done that work. it's time to go to conference, and therefore i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. inhofe: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: it is my understanding colloquy is in order between senator blumenthal and senator lee. i ask unanimous consent at the conclusion of that that i be recognized and following my remarks the senator from texas, senator cornyn, be recognized. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: reserving the right to object, i believe in
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the queue that i was listed in the queue a bit earlier than that, but i've only got a three- to four-minute statement. i don't mind trading off here, but i like others was told the time right after the vote that i -- mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that i amend my unanimous consent request to include the three-minute remarks of the senator from virginia. a senator: reserving the right to object. mr. warner: reserving the right to object, is that before or after the senator from oklahoma? mr. inhofe: that would be before the senator from oklahoma. mr. warner: thank you, sir. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent that the help committee be discharged from further consideration of senate resolution 133, that the senate proceed to its consideration,
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that the resolution be agreed to, that the preamble be agreed to, that the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: madam president, reserving the right to object, i want to point out that the incident that led to this resolution, the kermit gosnell prosecution, indeed resulted in a successful conviction. he was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. that case is closed. the criminal justice system has done its part. and the three life sentences without the possibility of parole mean that the interest there, the very important public interest will be served, and he will never again harm women, infants or anyone else through
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his version of medical practice that distorted an unfortunate betrayal of trust that he called medical practice. now, we need very much to focus on the kind of abuse of trust -- unsanitary, abusive, unsafe medical practices across this country. no matter what kind of procedure is involved. and that's the reason that i think this resolution is too narrow in its focus on violations of standard of medical care when they occur in medical practice, which most certainly was involved in the gosnell case and involved, unfortunately, in many cases, hundreds perhaps thousands across the country every year. as united states senators, we have a responsibility to focus
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on that betrayal of trust and care when it occurs, and that's the reason that i've offered a resolution, senate resolution 134 to express the sense of the senate that all incidents of abusive, unsanitary, illegal, unhealthful medical practices should be condemned and prevented and the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law just as gosnell was. there are many instances, unfortunately, already publicly disclosed of these abuses of standards. and one of them, for example, which i cited on the floor just recently last week -- and i remind my colleagues the oklahoma dentist who exposed as many as 7,000 patients to the h.i.v. and hepatitis b and c viruses through unsanitary practices. so far 60 of his patients have
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tested positive for these viruses. that's 60 people who trusted a health care provider in a position of authority to provide safe quality care. those patients now face life-threatening diseases. in nevada practitioners at an endoscopy center exposed 40 patients to hepatitis c through their unsanitary practices which went on for years. my resolution speaks to these kinds of abuses: unsafe, unsanitary practices no matter what the medical procedure involved may be. so i urge my colleagues to support my resolution, and i do object to the senator from utah's proposed resolution. and i ask unanimous consent that the help committee be discharged
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from further consideration of senate resolution 134 and the senate proceed to its consideration, that the resolution be agreed to, the blumenthal amendment to the preamble, which is at the desk, be agreed to, the preamble as amended be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: objection is heard to the senator from utah's request. is there objection to the senator from connecticut's request? mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: reserving the right to object, the kind of abuse, the kind of betrayal of trust described in the resolution proposed by my friend and my colleague from connecticut is different in kind from that described in my resolution. the kind of abuse involved in my resolution involves the intentional taking, the first-degree premeditated murder of human life. i think that deserves its own
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consideration. and on that basis, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: if i may respond to my friend's remarks -- and i certainly not only sympathize with his motivation, but also with the result. i just think it is too narrow a result to investigate one form of medical practice, no matter how egregious the violation of standard of care may be. in this instance it involved murder. we can say it now no longer with the word "alleged" before murder as we did last week. it is now proved. it is heinous and unacceptable. but so are the practices that involve exposing patients to very severe illnesses. likewise, the nursi california o inappropriately administered an
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antipsychotic medicine to residents simply for convenience and resulted in the death of one patient. those kinds of practices may be equally egregious in the results and impact that they cause. and my resolution would be broader and more inclusive and fairer not only to those victims' families -- and i want to express my sympathy with the families of those victims who were so deeply and irreparably harmed by gosnell, but also with the families and victims of other kinds of medical malpractices, and to respect the states who have an independent responsibility to assure adherence with those standards of care and ought to have the ability to enforce their laws which might be impeded by the resolution that has been offered by my friend from utah.
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mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, i rise to ask my colleagues once again to join me in expressing the sense of the senate that governments at all levels have a compelling interest in preventing and punishing the practice of late-term abortions under unsafe, unsanitary and illegal circumstances. it seems as though every day, with every day we find new evidence that this problem is much bigger than we could have feared previously. earlier this week, of course, if i abortion doctor gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a pregnant mother who came to see him for care. the shocking details, despite the efforts of the mainstream media to cover it up, has spun
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into news, planned apparent cited his appalling crimes. naral called him a butcher. on this floor last week gosnell's action were decried as an outrage, a violation of everything we hold dear. madam president, kermit gosnell has only been sentenced to life in prison and condemned as a monster for doing things for which had he done them just a few seconds earlier or a few centimeters in a different direction would have caused that those same voices might have hailed him as a hero and not as a monster. remember, president obama himself while serving in the state legislature of illinois voted against legislation that would have protected the civil and constitutional rights of infants, human beings born alive . at a recent hearing in the florida state legislature, a
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planned parenthood representative refused even to acknowledge that newborn babies have a right to life. in recent weeks undercover videos have caught abortion clinics around the country casually offering to kill infants born alive. and just this week evidence emerged about similar abuses at a clinic in texas. this has nothing to do with health care or even with medical negligence, but with murder. a war on women and children waged under the guise of legitimate health care. as much as we might want to agree that kermit gosnell is an aberration, recent revelations indeed suggest otherwise. a mounting body of evidence seems to suggest that at least among some late-term abortion providers and advocates, the immorality of infanticide may be an open question. madam president, the abortion industry's defense of late-term abortion has always been based on a rejection of innate human
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dignity. how could it be otherwise? but as technology advances, their case for late-term abortion increasingly rejects medical science as well. we now know as a scientific fact that unborn children, after about 20 weeks of development, can feel pain. we know that dr. gosnell's victims squirmed and cried before he severed their spinal cords. and we know that every day medical technology progresses, our abortion laws fall further behind the science. it is a tragedy all its own that even today our laws defining human life depend more on geography than biology. the unsettling question before us now is has an industry whose profits have always depended on dehumanizing unborn children gone further on dehumanized born
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alive children too? the case of kermit gosnell and video scandals around the country all hint at a terrifying answer. and yet right now we just don't know. my resolution will call on governments at all levels to find out, to find out what the late-term abortion industry is really up to and to take any appropriate and necessary measures to prevent and punish abusive, unsanitary and illegal practices. some might say that this resolution is a symbolic gesture. perhaps. and i and others have introduced more concrete legislation. but even so, madam president, symbols are themselves important. it's important that the strong stand up for the weak, that we in the world's greatest deliberative body lend our voices to the voiceless, that we representatives of the most powerful nation on earth promise to protect the weakest, most innocent, most vulnerable among us and punish those who would do
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our children harm. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: would the senator from utah yield for a question? mr. lee: yes, i will. mr. cruz: madam president, i'd like to ask a question but start by laying a predicate and then ask the senator from utah's views on that predicate. i rise today to support the resolution offered by senator lee calling upon the senate to investigate and hold hearings about the late-term abortion practices in this country. this is especially important given the fact that we are seeing allegations of similar conduct to that of dr. gosnell potentially being performed in other locations across the country. indeed, there have been allegations of similar conduct in my hometown of houston, texas, that i understand are being investigated by the local district attorney and other authorities and that need to be fully and thoroughly investigated.
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the crimes committed by dr. gosnell are almost unspeakable. the harm inflicted to the mothers and to the babies who were born alive and had their lives willingly extinguished unthinkable. the actions detailed in the grand jury report depict a house of horrors. knowing what we know now about what happened, everyone in this body should be supporting conducting an investigation to make sure there are not other dr. kermit gosnells across this country. we need to make sure it is not happening to other unsuspecting mothers, that other newborn babies are not being murdered as they were in dr. gosnell's clinic. specifically this resolution states congress and states should gather information about and correct abusive,
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unsanitary, and illegal portion practices, and the interstate referral of women and girls to facilities engaged in dangerous or illegal second- and third-trimester procedures. this body should be concerned what referrals were made to dr. gosnell and who else might be performing these late-term abortions in such horrific conditions. this resolution goes on to say congress has the responsibility to investigate on abortions near, at or after viability in the united states. public policies regarding such and evaluate the extent to which abortions involve the natural right to life of infants who were born alive or are capable of being born alive and therefore are entitled to equal protection under the law. in my judgment this is a resolution everyone should support.
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everyone who proclaims himself or herself to be a champion for women and children should enthusiastically support this resolution. many of these late-term abortion clinics serve underprivileged populations. anyone who proclaims himself a champion dedicated to helping the most vulnerable should be supporting this resolution. and the senate has an obligation to conduct oversight. planned parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider in 2011 performed 333,964 abortions in the united states. from 2011 to 2012, planned parenthood received 45% of its revenue from taxpayer-funded sources. almost half of its income comes from the taxpayer. and this body has an obligation to make sure there are not other
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gosnell houses of horror practicing today. the conditions described in the grand jury report shock the conscience. they described how doctors and nurses worked without proper licenses. the presiding officer: the senator from utah's time has expired. mr. cruz: my question to the senator is do you see how any senator of good faith given these facts could oppose this resolution. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent i be given 60 seconds to answer the question. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. lee: thank you, madam president. in short in response to the question from my colleague from texas, i do find it difficult to understand why anyone would oppose this. i also find it difficult to understand how this can be put on the same plate, as serious as other kinds of abuses are, as serious as other acts of
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medical malpractice may be, this one's different. this is about premeditated, first-degree murder of the most defenseless, the most vulnerable people in our society and i urge my colleagues to support it. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: again, i renew my objection. let me say my two colleagues have made excellent closing arguments to the gosnell jury, and i would expect that to be the case, since they're two well-trained, excellent lawyers. but the gosnell case is over. it's done. he's been sentenced or he will be shortly. and these kinds of abuses ought to arouse outrage wherever and whenever they occur. any time, anywhere a doctor endangers a patient in violating standards of care, we ought to condemn it. and so i urge my colleagues to
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join me in the outrage i feel about the dentist in oklahoma or the endoscopy center in nevada or the nursing home director in california, or any case where prosecution is appropriate, investigation should be done, properly by state authorities who have jurisdiction, and to condemn such practices and i ask them to join me in resolution s. 134. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: madam president, i appreciate the courtesy of the senator from oklahoma but recognizing that he has other accommodations he has to deal with, i ask unanimous consent that i be granted up to four minutes to speak after the senator from oklahoma concludes his comments. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: i'd like to --. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i'd like to ask the
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chair if i'm correct when i say that after the comments by the senator from virginia that the senior senator from texas will be recognized? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. inhofe: all right. first of all, i thank everyone. we are wall, i think late in the week are on a time line. i have a very significant piece of legislation, s. 965, called the iran sanctions implementation act. i spent a long time on the floor yesterday talking about this and it occurred to me that it's a little bit complicated and the longer you talk about it, the more complicated it gets. so i've shortened it. let me make a couple of brief comments about where we are today in relationship to iran and to some of the other countries in the middle east and a solution that everyone can agree to, to the problem that's there. first of all, iran's -- 70% of iran's revenues come from their export of oils.
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what we have done successfully is had some modest means of reducing that so that we've actually cut their amount of exports in half over the last four or five years from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.25 million barrels a day. what that amounts to 70% of the resources, the revenue that iran has. what do they do with their revenue? they first of all, we recognize something that people don't like to talk about. that is that iran, our own intelligence says and has said since 2007 that by 2015 they will have a weapon and the delivery step for that weapon. our concern, of course, is one of the things that happened in the barack obama's first budget four years ago in addition to other things to the military they did away with the
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ground-based interceptor in poland which was designed specifically to take care of a missile coming from the east and, of course, what we had in mind was the threat that's there from iran. so that is a threat. the second thing they have besides their nuclear buildup is the fact they are helping all the terrorist operations throughout the middle east. i think we know they were very significant in assisting assad in his barbaric slaughter of over 70,000 of the syrian people. they're able to do this because iran earns $3 billion a month in oil revenue. that's 70% of their revenue. if iran didn't have access to this money, its ability to influence the region would be either stopped or significantly curtailed. in other words, iran cannot pose this threat without their oil revenues. now, the united states production is now seven million barrels a day which is 40%
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higher -- put the chart up here -- 40% higher than in 2008. you look at the map here and you can see back in the old days, the oil belt was the western part of the united states. look at it now. it's all changed. you have the marcellus up there in pennsylvania which is now second, the second largest employer in pennsylvania. and so it's scattered throughout. the reason for this surge is because the use of horizontal drilling and high drawling -- hydraulic fracturing has let us reach production we otherwise could not do it. we have grown by 40% in our production, all, 100% of it, on state or private land. none of it on federal land. in fact, during this boom that we're in the middle of right now that's so productive to the economy of most of the states now, none of that came from the
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federal government, in fact, we had a reduction during this time in the production from federal lands. so the institute for energy research recently issued a report stating if we enacted policies that allowed aggressive development of this offlimit land that's there right now it would generate $14 trillion in economic activity, create 2.5 million jobs and reduce the deficit by 2.7 but most of all we could become totally independent from having to import our energy from any other country. now, what this bill does, it says that if the president -- put the one up with the circles on it. if the president would at his discretion, it would require the president find some area where you can just increase our production from federal lands by 1.25 million barrels a day. that's just a small, minuscule part of all the production,
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could be -- for example, in just this area here that would exceed 1.25 million barrels a day or this up here in alaska. or even offshore. the senator from virginia who is going to be speaking next is one, they've actually voted to go ahead and explore this off their shores. any of these places would do that. once they come up -- and why do we say 1.25 million barrels a day? that's what iran exports. this is what would happen. if we were able to do that, that would be 1.25 million barrels a day that we in the united states would no longer have to import which would open that up to those who are being -- importing from iran and we completely dry up this 70% of their revenue. and, of course, the rewards of that would be great for our country. so you're looking at up with of these rare situations where everything's good, everything that we would come from this is
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beneficial. we could dry up their revenues, they're using right now to enhance their 23450ubg capability and to perform all these atrocious acts in the middle east. and at the same time we would be able to lessen our dependence and provide all the benefits that come from the -- the use of this. eventually we would like to be in a situation where we could do not just 1.25 million barrels a day but maybe ten times that and become totally independent. in the meantime, we're only talking about one very small amount that we would be telling the president of the united states that he's going to have to allow us to explore it so we can stop iran from doing the things that they are doing today. i thank those who have allowed me to have a little bit of time today and i yield the floor.
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mr. warner: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: i thank my friend, the nator wish him good travels. i rise today to point out one more time some of the ramifications of the -- of the policy that i have called repeatedly stupidy on steroids which is our sequestration policies. word came out earlier this week from the department of defense that the secretary to meet his sequestration numbers is going to have to furlough teachers in department of defense schools for five days and education support personnel for 11 days. now, many of us on the floor of the senate stand up and praise our men and women who serve in the military, who defend our freedoms. i cannot think of anything that
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is more -- of an an 'tis sis -- antithesis of the words we say we would praise their service if we say yes, you go off and defend our nation in iraq and afghanistan, meanwhile your families and their children can't go to school. well, when it -- what makes this particularly difficult to stomach at this point is just today blue star families, one of our nation's best veterans' organizations, veterans support group organizations, came out and said in a list of priorities for military families, is one, the impact of deployments on -- repeated deployments on military families and particularly children. and secondly, military children education. in my stend many other states military families, particularly on base have a
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military d.o.d. school. those schools provide a valuable service to those military families, oftentimes who have their parents deployed. in in my mind, how can we stand here on the floor of the is that the and commend those men and women who serve but at the same time say, we support that service, we want to support you at home, but not enough to not have your kids have to miss five days of school because their teachers are furloughed or other support services of 11 days are furloughed for educational personnel. so, madam president, i am writing secretary hagel, and i would ask all of my colleagues to join with me in this matter in your honoring tha your urgins of these educators who train our -- who educate the children of our military families be exempted from the process of sequestration. i think as well it begs the
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larger question, that the nation confronts still a $16 trillion debt. i think most of us in this chamber know that the only way we're going to get i to a solutn is those of us on this side of the aisle are going to have to find a way to make smart, sensible reforms to entitlement programs. our colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle are going to have to work with us to find ways to generate additional revenues. otherwise we'll keep coming back to the kind of cuts that we've seen in sequestration, the kind of cuts in domestic discretionary spending that we're on the current path -- that we take discretionary spending down to 16%. i would never invest in a business that spent less than 5% on its research, infrastructure, and staying ahead of the competition. today i rise on the issue of making sure that we actually
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honor those military families, that we speak so often of, and make sure that their kids get to go to school next year and don't have to lose valuable educational time because their teachers are furloughed. i hope my colleagues will join me in this letter to secretary hagel to make sure that these individuals are relieved from this furlough. with that, madam president. and i again thank my colleague, the senator from texas, for the courtesy we've exchanged back and forth on the floor today. mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, we recently have been informed that the secretary of health and human services has become a private fund-raiser to raise funds from the very industry she regulates in order to implement obamacare. this raises all sorts of troubling concerns, an appearance of impropriety, ans n going on, extracting money from companies that she regulates in
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order to implement the president's health care law. this is certainly unethical, representing a conflict of interest, and possibly illegal. but it's provided us a useful reminder about obamacare, that it represents one of the worst examples of crony capitalism that exists today. unfortunately, that's true of a number of the administration's policies. but let me just explain what i mean. when a private enterprise and the government become so intertwined as to become mutually independent, usually what that means is that the people that can hire the best lobbyists and lawyers and others compete unfairly for government benefits and certainly that's the concern here, that secretary sebelius is going to get to be the one that doles out grants and other benefits under obamacare and the all-too-human
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temptation of favoring those who have gotten you out of a crack and done you a favor. but let's review how obamacare is supposed to work in the first place. the federal government is supposed to come up with its own definition of "health insurance." what you own right now might not be good enough for the government and its standard for health insurance. it is demanding that private businesses offer their employees this washington-approved insurance or they get penalized. it's also demanding that some americans, many americans pay for coverage they don't want, they don't need, and may not be able to afford. the best example of that is young adults, sometimes called the young and invisibles, because when you're young, a young adult, tuckly yo particulu may not think you need
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comprehensive health care insurance. you may think, well, perhaps i need more of a catastrophic policy or something else that will take care of me, if things really turn bad. but what happens now, because these young people will be forced to buy coverage they don't need and many of them don't want and many of them can't afford, they literally are going to see their insurance premiums skyrocket. because of a phenomenon known as age-banding where young people can't be charged -- or older americans can't be charged more than three times what younger people can be charged. we all know that, as we age, we utilize more health care services. but here again, younger americans are being asked to eln obamacare. one way to look at it is the
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obama administration has decided that the purchase of an expensive, government-approved product sold by certain private companies is a condition of american citizenship. you're an american citizen if you live here, you have to buy it. if you don't, you pay the penalty. that is one example of crony capitalism. private companies are turning to de facto public utilities, and americans are forced to buy their products. but only those products approved by the regulators here in washington. it's the ultimate marriage of big business and big government. and it's bad for the american taxpayer. now secretary is h sebelius hase a step further. she's using her leverage and her power as a regulator over private companies to force them to fund obamacare. we all see what's going on here.
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secretary sebelius is making the health care industry an offer they can't refuse. after all, her agency regulates those companies and has enormous influence over their business operations. indeed, obamacare has expanded health and human services regulatory powers so much, you can say it essentially amounts to a government takeover of one-sixth of the national economy. anytime there is a dramatic increase in federal regulation and bureaucratic authority, there will also be a dramatic increase in crony capitalism. you will recall that h.h.s., health and human services, granted a series of waivers from obamacare's annual limit requirements, which fostered the impron certain companies, labor unions and other institutions, were getting preferential treatment. why not treat all americans the
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same, rather thank government picking winners and losers with the temptation to pick your friends and political supporters and give them special favors? we saw this also in the government-run bailout of chrysler corporation. when the company's secured bondholders received less for their loans than the united autoworkers pension fund. we also saw it in the notorious solyndra project. president obama's entire green energy policy is based on the idea that the federal government should be playing venture capitalist with taxpayer dollars. but we all know that when solyndra went bankrupt, the administration favored private lenders over taxpayers, which was a violation of the law. but there are many other private companies that have received taxpayer funding for political or i had lodg i had lodge qual .
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that's why we say crony capitalism undermines trust in government. because not srve treated the same. -- because not everybody is treated the same. friends and family are chosen. we learned about the sebelius shakedown on the same day that we learn that the i.r.s. has been deliberately targeting and harassing some organizations based on their political views. as we all know, the i.r.s. has a very important and key role in administering some of the biggest parts of obamacare and, thus, will be collecting massive amounts of new information about individual americans. that was always a bad idea, but now after we've learned about the abuses at the i.r.s., it sounds even more dangerous than ever.
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after what we learned so far, how can americans feel confident that the i.r.s. won't abuse these new powers, having abused its current powers is this and why should the american people believe what they've been told when they've been lied to time and time again about the i.r.s.'s activities i activitie? back in march 2012, the former i.r.s. commissioner categorically denyinged that his agency was targeting certain political organizations. now we know that he was not only wrong, we also know that they intentionally lied, and we also know that senior i.r.s. officials, many who still have their jobs, learned of these abuses two years ago and never corrected the record. in short, if we ever needed another reason to get rid of obamacare and replace it with a market-driven, patient-centered
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reform, the i.r.s. has provided us with one. madam president, i yield the floor and i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: madam president, i remember -- i'm sure you do, too -- the early morning in march when we completed our budget deliberations. that was a couple months ago. and i remember the outcry about the united states senate not following regular order and passing a budget. and on that march morning, we did regular order. we passed a budget, we took up
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lots of amendments. we spent hours of debate. we voted on many, many amendments and the senate worked its will. and, of course, the house has also worked its will. it's passed a budget that is different than the senate budget and now the next step in regular order is for the house and senate to meet in what's called a conference to work out the differences between the house and the senate so that we can have a budget for the country. that's how the regular process works. and i know for the last couple years, we've had budgets, we've had budgets because of grand bargains that have been agreed to on debt extensions and things like that. but there was an outcry to follow regular order. that's what we should do, follow regular order. so the next step is to go into a conference. and i must tell you, i quite don't understand why the republican leader is objecting
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to going to conference. he's trying to say, we'll go to conference if we agree with the house. no, we don't go to a conference because we agree with the other body. you go to conference to work out your differences. so i'm extremely disappointed that those who are yelling the louderresloudest about followinr order are now preventing us from using regular order. we need to get to conference, and one of the reasons we need to get to conference is so that we can get rid of sequestration. sequestration is across-the-board mindless cuts. it treats every priority in government the same. that's mindless. that's not what we should be doing. it's having a major impact on the mission of many agencies in this country. they can't do what the public wants them to do because they don't have the budget support to do it. for an agency that's affected by sequestration, it amounts to almost 10% of their budget because they had to cram in the savings over a short number of months. it only affects some agencies,
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not all. not all the programs are affected by sequestration. but those discretionary programs that are affected are across-the-board without any discretion. now, madam president, if you ran into a tough economic time or someone that we represent and -- and they lose some income, they look at their family budget. they may have money put aside for rent or mortgage payment, may have some money put on the side for food budget for their family. maybe there's some money put aside to go to a orioles-red sx game. they're going to have to make some tough choices but they're going to make choices based upon what's most important in their family. they're certainly going to pay their mortgage payment or home payments to keep the roof over their family home. so that's what we should be doing. we have to make decisions. we capital do these across-the-board cuts. it is hurting agencies. these are cuts on top of cuts on top of cuts. let me just mention one group that is being particularly
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affected by that, and that's our federal work force. these are the people who are at n.i.h., talented scientists doing the research that is keeping us healthy. they are finding the answers to the dread diseases in our society. these are people who are standing guard on our border, keeping us safe. these are people who do food inspections to make sure that we have a healthy food supply. these are people that help our seniors, make sure they get the checks they need for dignity in their older years. these are people that are working for the public. now, what have we done to them? three straight years of freezes, no increase in their salaries. we're now looking at what we're going to do with their benefit structure. on top of that, we have freezes on the number of employees, therefore they are being asked to do more with less. and now we have furloughs, which is basically cuts, cuts on their salary. and it's not the federal payroll that caused the deficits we have today. as you and i know, it's a fact that we had a war in two
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countries, we have cut taxes, we went through a recession. we have to answer the way of getting out of this problem in a balanced approach. we have already done the discretionary cuts to those agencies. we are now affecting their ability to do the mission. i want to mention some of the effects of sequestration on the citizens of maryland who i have the opportunity to represent in the united states senate. maryland will lose approximately $14 million in funding for primary and secondary education, 12,000 fewer students will be served and approximately 30 fewer schools will receive funding. in maryland, we believe education is a top priority. that's how we compete. that's how we invest in our future, we invest in our children. maryland will lose approximately $10 million in funds for about 120 teachers, aides and staff who help our children with disabilities. 440 -- 770 fewer low-income families in maryland will receive aid to help them finance the costs of college.
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around 440 fewer students will get work studies jobs that help them pay for college. these are programs that democrats and republicans have fought over the years to make sure they are funded. now in maryland we're going to have to cut back. early head start services would be eliminated for approximately 800 children in maryland. and the list goes on and on and on. we will lose $3 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality. we've worked hard to clean up the chesapeake bay to provide safe environment for our families. that's in jeopardy as a result of sequestration. maryland, there will be tens of thousands of civilians in the department of defense that will be furloughed, reducing payroll in our state. maryland will lose $317,000 in justice assistance grants. this supports law enforcement. we all talk about supporting law enforcement. and i have a full list, and i will put most of this in the record. my point is that these are cuts that i don't think the public wants us to do, and congress --
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each of us say oh, we didn't mean that. we didn't mean that. well, it's time for us to act. democrats and republicans coming together in a bipartisan way. compromise. that's what our founding fathers envisioned that we would do. working together so that we have a balanced approach. let's look at compulsory spending, mandatory spending. we can organize our health care delivery system in a more cost-effective way dealing with individuals with high cost interventions. we can save money there, reduce hospital readmission rates. there is ways that we can bring down costs in a sensible way. our troops are coming home from afghanistan. we can reduce our military spending. and we can certainly look at the $1.2 trillion we spend every year threw the tax code. that's on a yearly basis. tax expenditures. and we can cerly of those loopholes and get the badly needed revenues so that we can deal with our budget in a balanced, responsible way.
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let's work together bipartisan, democrats and republicans. one more thing it will do. solving problems give predictability. people will know what the rules are. they will know what our budget is, what our tax code is. that unleashes our economy and creates jobs which helps this economy and helps balance our budget. so, madam president, i just urge my colleagues, let's take the next step. the next step is let's go to conference on the budget, let's work out the differences between the house and the senate. let's do what we were supposed to do in regular order. i urge my republican colleagues to remove their objections and let's get to a conference on the budget as soon as possible. with that, i see my distinguished friend from utah that's on the floor. i always learn a lot after he speaks. so i'm going to yield the floor to my colleague from utah. mr. hatch: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank my dear friend and colleague from maryland, and he really is a wonderful person and a very good senator. i enjoy him on the senate finance committee.
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he is one of the brighter people on that committee. i am on there with a whole bunch of very bright people. madam president, i rise today to speak on a matter that deserves the attention of everyone in this chamber. by now, we all know what's been going on at the internal revenue service. we've seen the report from the treasury inspector general for tax administration or tigta we call it, indicating that between 2010 and 2012, the i.r.s. was targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for increased levels of scrutiny. we have read the account -- or the accounts, i should say, of conservative groups that were asked improper questions about their donors while some of their applications were delayed for more than three years. even as applications for groups friendly to the president and liberal causes were promptly approved. and we have heard the apologies from senior i.r.s. officials and the condemnations from the white
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house itself. while we know for certain that this unacceptable behavior was going on at the i.r.s., there is still much more we don't know. for example, we still don't know why the targeting began or why only conservative groups were targeted by the i.r.s. exercise. we don't know the full extent to which senior officials at the i.r.s. and department of treasury became aware of these practices when they found out, and what they did or did not do to put a stop to these practices. and perhaps most importantly, we don't know why when members of congress asked questions about these issues last year and after senior officials certainly knew of the problem or problems we were led to believe that no groups were being targeted. indeed, neither congress nor the american people learned anything about these activities from the responsible officials until they were trapped and their hands were forced. madam president, there really aren't words to describe what's
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gone on here. some of us have tried. words like unconscionable, unbelievable, and knicksonian have been thrown around -- and nixonian have been thrown around rightfully in my opinion. but regardless of the words we use to describe it, these are the most shocking and training turn of event we have -- and outrageous turn of events we have seen in washington in some time, and that's saying something. these actions for the most part have been condemned by members of both parties. in the end, i hope both republicans and democrats will work together to address these issues. i have said from the outset that it doesn't matter if a tax-exempt group is liberal, conservative or moderate. it is an outrage that the i.r.s. would single out any group based on its political beliefs. on that point, there is bipartisan agreement in congress t the senate finance committee, chairman baucus and i are undertaking a bipartisan investigation into this matter to find out exactly what
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happened and make sure this type of thing never happens again. i am happy to be working with chairman baucus on this effort, and i want to assure my colleagues that we're going to get to the bottom of this. we're going to find out just how far down the rabbit hole the i.r.s. went in singling out groups based on their political beliefs. we're going to find out why the i.r.s. ignored a bedrock rule of tax administration, treat similarly situated taxpayers similarly always. we're going to find out exactly who was responsible and we're going to hold them accountable for their actions. the i.r.s. needs to come clean about what went on here. chairman baucus and i intend to make sure that they do. sadly, while the targeting of conservative groups in the review process has gotten most of the attention thus far, there are other issues involving the i.r.s. that are every bit as disconcerting. there are news reports indicating that in 2012, the
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same i.r.s. office improperly disclosed confidential information about certain conservative groups to media organizations. last november, the jrnalist group pro publicca requested 501-c-4 applications for 67 different nonprofits. less than two weeks later, the i.r.s. produced application documents submitted by 31 of the organizations included in this group of documents, with the applications from nine conservative organizations that were still under consideration by the i.r.s. pro publica subsequently published six of those applications in redacted form on the internet and published articles analyzing the information they obtained. now, this is disturbing for at least three reasons. first and foremost, under section 6103 of the internal revenue code, the i.r.s. is prohibited from disclosing applications for tax-exempt status that are still under
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review, and while the i.r.s. is authorized under section 6104 to release application materiafoupn granted tax-exempt status, pending applications are required by law to remain confidential. this appears to be a pretty cut-and-dried violation of the internal revenue code, meaning that civil and criminal penalties may apply. second, the i.r.s. responded to pro publica's request in just 13 days. that seems extraordinarily swift, and it raises the question of how long the i.r.s. normally takes to respond to such document requests. i don't want to prejudge anything, but i suspect it usually takes longer than 13 days to hear back from the i.r.s. it certainly takes longer than that for the i.r.s. to respond to requests from congress. finally, this revelation comes not too long after other allegations that the i.r.s. disclosed confidential information submitted by
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conservative nonprofits. in the spring of 2012, activist groups and media outlets began posting confidential donor information regarding the national organization for marriage, a nonprofit 501-c-4 organization on the internet. such information is also required by law to be kept confidential. although the i.r.s. is authorized to release yearly forms filed by tax-exempt organizations, the law prohibits donor information from being disclosed, and that's whether it's a conservative, moderate or liberal organization. yet, the national organization for marriages documents that found their way online in the middle of a presidential election appeared to have come from the i.r.s. this is suspicious, to say the least. that's why in may of 2012, i sent a letter to the i.r.s. commissioner requesting an investigation into whether the i.r.s. publicly disclosed
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confidential donor information about the national organization for marriage. to date, i have not yet received a substantive response. so, madam president, in addition to the revelations that the i.r.s. has improperly targeting conservative groups for scrutiny of their 501-c-4 applications, we have these unanswered questions about the possible legal disclosure of confidential information to media outlets and other organizations. this is another matter that needs to be resolved in order to restore the credibility of the i.r.s. as a government agency. that's why i along with all the republican members of the senate finance committee have submitted a letter to the treasury inspector general asking that he look into these issues. among other things, our letter requests that tigta -- that is the inspector general's organization -- investigate to determine which employees at the i.r.s. were responsible for improperly disclosing confidential documents to pro
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publica and whether any actions have been taken against them. in addition, this letter asks for an investigation to whether the i.r.s. followed its usual freedom of information act procedures in its prompt response to pro publica's document request. and our letter asked tigta to determine whether the i.r.s. ever undertook an investigation to determine if the agency was responsible for leaking the national organization for marriage's donor information. madam president, the american people have a right to expect government agencies to perform their functions in a neutral, unbiased manner. when any agency breaks that trust, it undermines the credibility of the entire government. these aren't matters that can simply be washed away or wished away by public apologies and condemnations. they can't be covered up by a handful of resignations. and they aren't covered up by an
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apology. i hope the administration knows this. the only way to fully address these issues and to restore the credibility of the i.r.s. is to have full accounting of the facts. one way or another, we're going to learn all we can about the facts and what went on there. hopefully we can do so with the full and complete cooperation of the administration. look, the i.r.s. is the most powerful agency in government. our liberties depend upon an impartial i.r.s.. we know that many of the employees at the i.r.s. are represented by one of then this. you can presume from that most of them are not republicans. be that as it may, the democrats
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i know that i honor and respect are those who keep their word, live within constraints, follow the rules, do what's right, and fight hard for their principles. but the i.r.s. is not a place where you should do -- where you should be doing anything but fighting hard for the principles of fair treatment of all u.s. citizens. i would be decrying this if the i.r.s. were doing this to liberal organizations. we don't expect them to ever do that, but i would surely be decrying it. all i can say is that the very essence of liberty is involved with what the i.r.s. does or is doing. if we can't rely on the most powerful agency in government to treat people fairly, this country's in much greater trouble than many of us think it
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is, it's in. we know we're in trouble. we know that we're living beyond our means. we know that we're not doing what's right in this country. we know that congress could do a much better job than it's doing, and that includes both democrats and republicans. it's inexcusable for an agency with the power that the i.r.s. has to be involved in these type of shenanigans. it's chilling, absolutely chilling to anybody who thinks about it that this most powerful agency can basically come down on anybody for almost any reason if it's not honest. we have to restore the trust and the honesty of the i.r.s., and we've got to be able to rely on the i.r.s. being fair, impartial, and in doing what's right. i think i can speak for my colleagues on the democrat side.
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many of them are as outraged as i am about what went on here. it just isn't right. and i think the american people fully understand that. madam president, i appreciate those who are honest. i appreciate those who do abide by their ethical constraints. i appreciate those who aren't political at the i.r.s.. there are many good people working there, and i don't want them to be besmirched by the few who might be a little bit more than a few people who really don't honor the ethical constraints that the i.r.s. simply has to live up to. let's hope that neither side will ever again use the i.r.s. for political purposes. madam president, i yield the floor.
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mr. rubio: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: are in we -- are we in morning business? the presiding officer: yes. mr. rubio: i ask to speak for up to 15 minutes. i won't use the whole time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you. i wanted to come to the floor to follow up on the news we had on this i.r.s. situation which i know is concerning to all americans, democrats, republicans, everyone. the power of the government is real and the power of the i.r.s. is very real. so any time there is abuse of power in the i.r.s. it is going to affect americans regardless of political leanings. before we do i want to comment on something that happened a few minutes ago at a press conference at the white house. i have tremendous respect for the office of the presidency and for anyone who would hold themselves up to hold the
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office. so i say this with the highest of respect. i think the president today in his press conference potentially made a mistake in an answer that he gave, and i would encourage the white house to clear it up as soon as possible. he was asked specifically if he or anyone in the white house knew about what was going on at the i.r.s. before april 22 of this year and the president's answer was that he didn't know about the inspector general's report until he read about it in the press. i will submit to you that he did not answer that question, and i'm not implying that he did know about it. i'm just encouraging those and the white house and those there to clear this up as soon as possible. it's kind of reminiscent when attorney general holder would not ask senator paul's question about whether american citizens could be targeted in the homeland with a drone and we all know he twha led to. it is -- what it led to. tass -- it is a simple question. ii think it is important for the president to thaepbs -- to
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answer that clearly, not because i'm implying he did know. if you leave that out there it creates questions. i hope they will do that. it's important. i want to bring to the attention of the senate and american people a compilation of stories that have emerged since the initial question emerged and they extend beyond the i.r.s.. here's a report from the washington examiner. the headline reads the i.r.s. denies tax exempt status on behalf of planned parenthood. in one case the i.r.s. held approval of an application of tax exempt status for coalition for life in iowa. inone of the leaders claimed ina phone call he had with the i.r.s. on june 6, 2009, the i.r.s. agent, stated under perjury of law they do not picket, protester organize
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groups to picket or protest outside of planned parenthood. they said once the i.r.s. received this letter this application would be approved. that's troubling if true. that's one report in the news. here's another one. this comes from a very respected individual in the united states. his name is franklin graham, the son of the reverend billy graham. he claims the billy graham evangelical association and samaritan purse, the i.r.s. notified them in september it was conducted a -- quote -- "review of their activities for tax year 2010." he goes on to say by the way that this review happened after mr. graham's organization published newspaper ads in north carolina backing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. that's in the news. here's another -- that was from "politico". i'm just reporting different out lets what they're reporting. this is another report that has been out there. i think i alluded to this yesterday in my speech. this talk about how the same i.r.s. office that deliberately
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tafrgted conservative groups -- targeted groups applying for tax exempt status in the run up to the 2012 election released nine pending applications of conservative groups to propublica late last year. i think this is propublica admitting this is where they got the information from. this is in response for the applications to requests last november. this is an admission from propublica, a not for profit investigating group, they're admitting the source of these leaked documents was the i.r.s. office in cincinnati. the leaked documents of nine conservative groups. it is no longer audits. it is cooperating with investigative journalists by providing information which is illegal to provide them. confidential tax information. that is what this report says from the organization who got the leak. this is fox news latino. it reports the former president of the san antonio tea party
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said they received a questionnaire with over 50 questions including where meetings were held, who was in attendance, the subject of internal e-mails, et cetera, et cetera. this is in line with some of the other stories we've been hearing. this was posted online. these are letters going back and forth between the richmond tea party and the i.r.s.. this is the actual letters we pulled online with some information redacted for privacy. some of the questions they were asked: provide the following information for all events and programs you have conducted and participated from october 22 to now. they wanted copies of handouts you provided to the audience. if there were any speeches or forums conducted in the event or program, provide detailed contents of the speeches or forums, names of the speakers or panels, their credentials, names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program. indicate the percentage of time and resources you spent on all the events and programs in relation to your activity. it goes on and on. these are pages after pages
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after pages after pages of information being asked of a citizen group from the i.r.s.. and anyone who's gotten a letter from the i.r.s. understands it's never a pleasant thing unless there is a refund check in that envelope. you go in the mailbox, you open it, it says i.r.s. and everyone doesn't like it. imagine this group of everyday citizens -- not political activists. these are everyday americans speaking out about the principles of limited government and free enterprise and they were speaking out in favor of big government, they would still have the same right not to be harassed by the i.r.s.. i want to bring the real face of this to bear because this is not just a problem with an abuse of power in the i.r.s.. think about the application this has had on the lives of everyday americans who one day decided i want to get involved. i want to speak out. i want to say something. and you get hit with a letter like this. this kind of questionnaire which what happens in a lot of these groups, they decide i'm not going to speak out, not going to get involved.
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i don't need the hassle. maybe that was the intent. we went over that for a moment. here's something that's troubling. this is from "usa today". "usa today" headlines, i.r.s. approves liberal groups while tea party in limbo. some of these groups were approved in little as six months, bus for progress, uses red, white and blue buss to drive for progressive change. missourians organizing for reform and empowerment got tax exempt status after nine months. progress florida, similar experience. this is the "usa today". i think this was their cover story yesterday where it described the differences of how tea party groups were treated in comparison to groups that had things in their title like progress or progressive. here's one more that actually shows this kind of behavior extends beyond the internal revenue service. this is from the competitive enterprise institute. may 14. it talks about how public records produced by e.p.a., the
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environmental protection agency, in response to a lawsuit filed by c.e.i. under the freedom of information act shows a pattern of making it more difficult for limited government groups, in particular those who argue for more freedom and less e.p.a., how it makes it harder for them to get access to public records. green groups, the sierra club, public employees for environmental responsibility, earth justice had their fees weighed in 75 out of 82 cases. meanwhile the e.p.a. effectively or expressly denied c.e.i.'s request for fee waivers in 14 of its 15 requests. 14 of its 15 requests. that's 93% of the time versus basically the alternative here which is what they did with these other groups. all a chain in a pattern of behavior that i think is not anything any of us want to see and something i don't think we're going to, quite frankly, i
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suspect you won't see a member of congress come to the floor of either chamber and say this is acceptable behavior. this is not just about a handful of people in the i.r.s., cincinnati office or somewhere else doing something wrong. this is much deeper than that. i talked about it yesterday. i'll repeat it today. that is a sense that this administration has pursued a real culture of intimidation in the political process both through the way it ran its campaign. but i want to take it one step further. what this really should remind us of is the dangers of government power. let me stop there and remind you we need government. i don't know any anarchist that served in the u.s. government for the most part. all of us believe government has an important role to play in our country. the national defense. we believe there needs to be a safety net to help those who cannot help themselves not as a way of life, but to help those who have fallen to stand up and try again. we think the government plays an important role in our laws. one of the things that attracts people to the u.s., for example,
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to do business here is we have a legal system where property rights are going to be respected. if you say you own a piece of property, it belongs to you. no one would dispute that. if they do you have to go to court. there are places in the world whoever has the best connection to government has the bigger guns. we take that for granted sometimes in the united states. there is a role for government to play and it is a very important role. the problem is our framers, the founders of this nation had a deep suspicion of government no matter who was running the government. they rejected this notion if you get good people in government you'll have good government. government has a role to play. when government's powers extend beyond its natural limits or important limits you start to have problems like this emerge. i bring this to the core because this is exactly what we've been debating here in so many instances is expanding the natural power of government beyond where it should be and allowing it to have jurisdiction and influence over areas of our life where no matter who is in charge, republican or democrat, you may not like the way it turns out. we talked about the i.r.s. for a moment. the i.r.s. is going to be on the front lines of enforcing the
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health care law. this is the same agency of government that has for the most part over the last few years now by admission of everyone involved, been abusing the power, at least some of their employees have. i don't want to besmirch the entire agency. as senator hatch said, there are people who would never participate in this type of behavior. this is the agency that was targeting americans because they were organizing themselves as conservatives. this is now the agency that's going to be empowered with new powers it's never had before, the power to force every american to either buy health insurance or pay a fine. buy health insurance or pay a tax. and in the weeks to come, we're -- i'm going oka going to be oug examples of why giving government more power than it should have creates situations like this -- potential for situations like this to occur.
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the founding fathers specifically said, if this constitution doesn't give the federal government this power, it doesn't have it. and we sometimes forget that lesson two centuries later, but we shouldn't. that's an important limit. and i think we can have an honest debate about what role government should be playing in our lives and in our economy. there could be an honest debate about that because there is a role for government to play. there is an important role for government to play in our country. but it can go too far. whether it is in the realm of civil liberties or economic liberties. and that's what i think the debate should be focused on in the weeks to come, to getting to the bottom of what's happened here. understanding what's happened here. i'm involved in another endeavor -- immigration reform. one of the biggest impediments to immigration reform that we are face something the distrust of the federal government, the belief that they're not going to enforce the law, no matter what we pass or what we put in plashings they're not going to do it. we tried this 20-0 years ago,--d
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this 20-30 years ago, they didn't do it. the vast majority of americans, the vast majority of republicans, democrats, independents are willing -- are willing to deal with the fact that we have 11 million people living in this country illegally, so long as we can ensure this never happens again in the future. we have to win their confidence that the measures we're going to take are going to prevent that from happening in the future. but we're struggling because people have a distrust of the government's abet tgovernment'se the law. i think it is important poo remind ourselves that even if government is run with the best people, it has the tendency to do these sorts of things. you see that at every level, but particularly the federal 4re68. any time we come here and debate giving government a new power or agency or mandate or jurisdiction, we should be cognizant of the history of government power. we should be cog any doe cognizt
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it's meant throughout history. the framers understood that power could be abused and so i'll close by just saying that in the weeks to come, i know that i, along with all my clerks want to get to the bottom of this. we need to understand who was involved in this, why did it happen and more importantly, what can we do now to make sure this never, ever happens again? what reques can we do to make sa situation like this never happens again? no american will ever feel prad to speak out politically because they may wind up the target of governmental example. -- --of governmental afntle i yield thgovernment -- ofgovernmental . i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to speak for 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to
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place into the record remarks made this morning -- or the english translation of remarks made this morning by pope frances, who addressed the new nonresident ambassadors to the holy city. and i don't usually comment much on religious matters, but i was very impressed by what the pope had to say today. and in his remarks, pope frances called for a revamping of the global financial system, a system which he pointed out benefits the few, values money over human dignity, and continues to widen the gap between the rich and everybody else. while acknowledging the advances that modern society has made this health care, education,
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technology, and other areas, the pope expressed his concern for the least amongst us. and this is what the pope said, and i quote, "we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries. the joy of life is diminishing, iindecency and poverty are on te right, violence is becoming more and moreest, people have to live in an undig nighified way." then the pope went on to say in his rather brief remarks, he said that, quote, "one cause of this situation is in our relationship with money and our
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acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. the worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal." end of quote. and the then the pope continued, "the worldwide financial and economic crisis seems to highlight their distortions and, above all, the gravely deficient human perspective which reduces man to one of his needs alone; namely, consumption. worse yet, human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods, which can be used and thrown away. we have begun a throw-away culture." and he said also, "solidarity,
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which is the treasure of the poor, is often considered counterproductive, opposed to the logic of finance and the economy." and further quoting the pope, "while the incoming"ing" -- andi hope everybody listens to this. "while the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling." will the me repeat that. that is what the pope said just today. "while the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. this imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation a thus deny the right of control to states, which are themselves charged with providing for the
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common good." a new, invisible, and at times virtual tyranny is established, one which unilaterally and irreimmediatably imposes its own laws and rules. moreover, indebtedness and credit distance countries from their real economy and citizens from their real buying power. added to this, as if it were needed, is widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. the will to power and a possession has become limitless." and this is from a speech that pope frances made today. well, i think it's important that we listen to the pope on this issue. frankly, i have strong disagreements with the catholic church on issues of women's rights, issues of gay rights, and a number of other issues.
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but on this issue of what is happening economically around the world, the power of financial markets, the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, the need for government, for states around the world to step in and protect the dispossessed, the need to understand that money unto itself means nothing unless it is being used in a way which improves the lives of all people, that is a message coming from the pope which is worth thinking about and discussing. now here in the senate, i hear a lot of crit symms of government and -- a lot of criticisms of government and certainly which are justified, and all of you i would hope are deeply concerned and embarrassed and disagree with what the tires in term then
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terms of picking out one political persuasion in terms of tax-exempt status. that's clearly wrong and must be dealt with. but many of my friend attack government day after day when government is trying to do the right thing in protecting middle-class and working families. there are some in the congress, for example, who believe that government programs like social security, medicare, and medicaid should be significantly cut or that maybe government shouldn't even be involved in those areas, and they believe that these programs are unconstitutional. well, if you were to eliminate social security and you eliminate medicare and medicaid, what happens to tens and tens of millions of people who rely on social security for their retirement, especially at a time
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when many private pensions have been cut severely? if you make cuts or eliminate medicare for the old or you undo the medicare system that we know and make it into the system that our friends in the house would like to have, what happens to elderly people when they get sick and need health care and don't have the money in their own pockets to pay for that? i will tell you what happens. this year alone it is estimated that approximately 45,000 americans will die because they never made it to a doctor on time when they should have made it. well, if you make major cuts in medicare or do you away with the basic guarantees that medicare now provides, clearly the number of people who will die will simply increase.
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if you are 67 years of age and are diagnosed with cancer and medicare is not there for you and you don't have a family which has money, what happens to you? well, some of my republican friends will say, well, go to charity. well, charity is not going to be there to provide health care for millions and millions of people. and in terms of health care, what we must point out, over and over again, because many americans don't understand it, our nation is the only nation in the industrialized world which does nodoes not not guarantee hh care to all people as a right of citizenship. and today, although we hope that will change in the very near future, 50 million people have no health insurance; many others have large deductibles or co-payments which keep them from going to the doctor when they
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should. on state in vermon saturday in e invited the door from denmark to join us and do a town meeting and he will explain to us how in denmark, among many, many other countries in the world, they can provide health care to people which is virtually free from out-of-pocket suspensions and yet per capita end up spending substantially less than we do. he will explain to us why the cost of their prescription drugs is substantially lower than it is in the united states. in terms of education, at a time when in my state the average college graduate in vermont leaves school some $28,000 in debt, roughly the national average, at a time when hundreds of thousands of young people cannot afford to go to college and we lose all of their intellectual capabilities and the genius that they might provide for our society, why it
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is that in denmark, colleges education is virtually free, including graduate school and medical school. at a time when in our country millions of people are overworked and underpaid, at a time when we work some of the longest hours of any people in the industrialized world, when people in vermont are working not 40 hours a week but 50 hours a week, 60 hours a week, people are working not one job but two jobs, three jobs, trying to cobble together an income, at a time when some employers are hiring people and providing zero vacation time, or maybe if you're lucky a week off, how does it happen that in countries like denmark people not only get five weeks guaranteed paid vacation, but they get another 11 vacation days? in this country, we talk a lot
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about family values. but if you're a working-class woman having a baby, you'll get some -- some, maybe if you're working for a large enough employer, the family medical leave impact may give you some time off to have the baby, but you can't stay home very long because you're not getting any money coming in. and millions of folks have a baby, they have to go right back to work, put their child in childcare when they would prefer otherwise. how does it happen that in countries like denmark women get four weeks off, fully paid, before they give birth, and then months off afterward to stay home with the baby, not to mention three-quarters payment from the government for childcare which we do so poorly about. so, mr. president, i think it's
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time that we have a serious discussion about values, and that discussion has got to include whether or not we feel good about the fact that in this country so few have so much, and so many have so little. if we feel comfortable with the growing imbalance in terms of income and wealth such that the top 1% owns 38% of the wealth and the bottom 60% owns only 2.3%, and that gap between the billionaire class and everybody else is growing wider. and as the pope indicated, are we comfortable with aanalsyst wo invest in the productive economy, but to make money for
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itself such that the top six financial institutions in this country have assets equivalent to some 70% of the g.d.p. of the united states, some $9 trillion. an enormous political power. are we comfortable -- you know this i.r.s. business that people are talking about in the floor -- on the floor is related to the absurd campaign finance system that we have by which big money can secretly put hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process. are we comfortable about a political system when people can make contributions in secret that ends up in the political process and then ends up on 30-second ads on our tv? money coming from billionaires who don't have to disclose their
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contributions. so when we talk about values, it is important to assess who we are as americans and what we believe in. and i believe that most americans believe that we have got to do a lot better job and focus on the needs of the declining or disappearing middle class, that we have got to create millions of jobs so that our young people do not have outrageously high levels of unemployment, that older people who lose their jobs have nothing to go back to, that we have got to address the issue of high childhood poverty, and that we have got to make sure in fact government works for all of the people and not just the people on top. so, mr. president, i would just conclude by recommending to the members and to the american
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people that they examine the remarks made this morning by pope frances which i think raise some very, very important issues. i think there is a lot to be learned from those remarks. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. 50 years ago in 1963 --. the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. brown: i apologize. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: 50 years ago in august, 1963, martin luther king wrote that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. when a factory full of human beings collapses in bangladesh, it matters in bucyrus and bordman and bellefontaine.
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when the ceiling crumbls in cambodia, it matters in salina and canton. earlier this month we observed workers' memorial day. we honor their memories, we've passed laws to help ensure that no other child waits by the door for a mother or father who will never return home from work. out of the ashes of the triangle shirtwaist factory fire 100 years ago in new york city, we fought and won workplace safety reforms that helped save lives, countless lives, decade after decade after decade in our country. even though we've passed the occupational safety and health insurance -- health act of 1970, own though we have the national labor relations board we still have a moral responsibility to be vocal abouy wherever it happens, whether it happens in cleveland, whether it happens in honolulu, whether it happens in bangladesh.
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we're interconnected with this world. our economy is linked to the women and children, the people whose names we don't know, the workers we don't know who sew labels we all know in our shirts and sweaters. american he retailers, european retailers purchase some two-thirds of bangladeshi garment production. that's why, mr. president, in the aftermath of the deadly collapse in bangladesh, in the wing star shoes collapse outside of 35 phnom penh, we might have expected outraged american companies to take action. not exactly what happened. which member of this multibillion-dollar industry will speak out for workers who face hazardous conditions for a minimum wage in many cases of just $38 per month, making the clothes that we wear in this country. today, leader reid, senators harkin of iowa, durbin of illinois, levin of michigan,
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leahy of vermont, murray of weashts, -- washington state, rockefeller of west virginia and i spent a letter to american are retailers. we're urge, retailers like wal-mart to sign on to a legally binding global accord to assure worker safety in bangladesh. we're asking a list of american companies, a number of the largest retailers in america to sign on to this legally binding global accord to help ensure worker safety in bangladesh. remember, injustice as dr. king wrote some 50 years ago, injustice anywhere threatens our ability to create a more just world. signing this accord is one step our leading retailers can take to help usher in a new era of justice in this new century. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, may i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: and may i ask to speak for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much, mr. president. i am back again to remind this body and the american people for what i think is perhaps the 32nd speech on this subject that i've been giving weekly that it is time, indeed, it is well past time, for congress to wake up to the disastrous effects of global climate change. the famous monoloa observatory has just for the first time ever hit 400 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. that is a alarming benchmark to have hit. and what is happening? over on the house side today, they are repealing obamacare for the 37th time. that's the level of seriousness in washington right now. in particular, our oceans. the presiding officer represents the bay state.
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i represent the ocean state. and our oceans face an unprecedented set of challenges that come from climate change as well as from pollution and energy exploration and more. you just have to look around to see it. you can look up to the far north and you see that the arctic ice is melting. indeed, last summer, sea ice extent in the arctic ocean hit a record low. you can go down to the south to the tropic seas and you see that live coral coverage on caribbean reefs is plummeting, down to less than 10% today. you go to the top of the food chain and you see marine mammals so laden with p.c.b.'s, flame retardants, mercury and other biocumulative pollutants that many of them are swimming toxic
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waste, living, swimming toxic waste. go to the very bottom of the food chain and you see that the population of fida plankton, some of our smallest ocean inhabitants and the basic building block for the oceanic food chain have dropped 40% during the 20th century. you go far away from where you and i are out to the great pacific garbage patch, and it's growing and swirling about the north pacific ocean. and close to my home and near to the presiding officer's home is narragansett bay, which is four degrees warmer in the winter than it was just a few decades ago. globally, the most threatening challenge and the force behind many of these others is ocean
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acidification. our oceans have absorbed more than 550 billion tons of our carbon pollution. 550 billion tons. try to wrap your head around a number that big. that's the carbon that the ocean has absorbed from the atmosphere from the excess that we have pumped into the atmosphere. the result is pretty clear, and it is a matter of basic chemistry. the oceans have become more acidic. indeed, they have become 30% more acidic. and by the way, that's a measurement. that's not a theory. by the end of this century, the increase could be as much m aci. that makes life a lot harder for species like oysters, crabs,
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lobsters, corals and even those plankton that comprise the very base of the food web. ocean temperatures are changing dramatically, also driven by carbon pollution. sea surface temperatures in 2012 from the gulf of maine to cape hatteras were the highest recorded in 150 years. that's another measurement, by the way. fish stocks are shifting northward with some disappearing from u.s. waters as they move farther offshore. and as we know, as temperature rises, water expands in volume, and on top of that freshwater pours out of arctic snow pack and ice sheets that are melting,
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so sea levels are rising. tide gauges in newport, rhode island, show an increase in average sea level of nearly 10 inches since 1930. that is a big deal. when we in rhode island think about how devastating the great hurricane of 1938 was to our shores and what more would now befall us with ten more inches of sea for such a storm to throw at our shores. at these tide gauges, measurements show not only that sea level is rising but the rate of sea level rise is increasing, which matches reports that since 1990, sea level has been rising faster than the rate predicted by the intergovernmental panel on climate change. i've said before we will continue to take advantage of the oceans bounty, as we should.
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we will trade, we will fish and we will sail. we will extract fuel and harness the wind. we will work our oceans, navies and cruise ships, sailboats and super tankers will plow their surface. we cannot undo this part of our relationship with the sea. what we can change is what we do in return. we can for the first time become takers -- become not just takers but caretakers of our oceans. we are beginning to take some baby steps. last week, the senate voted 67-32 to authorize a national endowment for the oceans, coasts and great lakes, a funding stream for research, restoration
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and protection of our marine and coastal resources. i hope before long that we can find a way to fund it, working with all of my colleagues. the famous ocean explorer bob ballard is described as a -- quote -- "major problem, the disconnect between the importance of oceans and the meager funds we as a nation invest to not only understand their complexity but become responsible stewards of the bounty they represent." this endowment, if we can get it over the remaining legislative hurdles and get it funded, will help us become more responsible stewards of that bounty. it will help us better respond to oil spills. it will help coastal states protect or relocate coastal infrastructure. it will help our fisheries and marine industries take part in
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economically important conservation efforts. mr. president, i do sincerely appreciate the support shown for this amendment. my colleagues from every region of the country and both sides of the aisle. protecting the oceans upon which our communities and our economy depend is neither a democrat or a republican objective, and there ought to be a great deal of agreement on the need to meet these challenges. we also see that agreement in the bipartisan senate oceans caucus which works to increase awareness of and find common ground on issues facing the oceans and coasts. my fellow cochair, senator murkowski, and honorary cochair senator mark begich and senator roger wicker and all of our partners are working to stop illegal, unregulated and
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unreported fishing, clean up marine debris and collect baseline scientific data so that we can make informed policy decisions. this is important work. it demonstrates the good we can accomplish when both parties come together, and i look forward to getting it done. but it is not enough. it is not enough. until we address what is causing our oceans to change so drastically, until we protect our planet from carbon pollution unprecedented in human history, we are doing little more than putting band-aids on a gaping and growing wound. mr. president, i want here today to push back on the idea that so many of us seem to have accepted that we can't do anything serious on carbon pollution. in fact, we can, and the tools to do it lie right around us, if
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only we pick them up and go to work. here is my case, very simply. pricing carbon is necessary. make big carbon polluters pay a fee to the american people to cover the cost of dumping their waste into our atmosphere and oceans, a cost they now push off on to the rest of us and return that fee to the american people. at present, however, political conditions in congress do not allow us to price carbon. it is necessary. political conditions do not allow us to do it, so we must change those political conditions, and we can through three actions -- one, there has to be a regulatory threat to the polluters. two, there has to be a political
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threat to the deniers here in the senate and in congress. and three, those of us who wish to limit carbon pollution must gather the armies that are on our side. let me go through those steps. first, as long as the polluters and their allies control long, legislative action is unlikely. that means we have to rely on the executive branch for regulatory action, very strong regulatory action that will change the equation for the polluters. that's the test. will it change the equation for the polluters? because the status quo is a win for the polluters. they pollute for free. change that balance, and it won't take them long to come to congress. why? because regulatory action puts costs directly on the polluters but creates no revenues for them
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a carbon pollution fee. that creates revenues, a portion of which could offset their costs of transitioning to a green economy. if that's the choice they have, regulation with no revenues or a fee that they can get revenues from, it becomes in their interest to strike a deal in congress. this regulatory step in the executive branch will, however, require an awakening at the white house. second, to create a meaningful political threat, the advocates out there for our climate and our oceans will need to employ all the sophisticated political tools the polluters use, all the political artillery of the post-citizens united world. there is an expression that you shouldn't bring a knife to a
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gunfight. right now, climate advocates bring not even a knife but a feather to this gunfight. it's no wonder we lose. but when deniers in congress see real artillery coming on the political field against them, some will rethink. third and last is gathering the armies. there is astonishingly wide support for action on climate. environmental groups, obviously. the green energy and investment industry. our national security officials. property casualty insurers and reinsurers, young people like the growing college movement for coal divestment, faith groups, many utilities, celebrities, hunting, fishing, outdoor and conservation groups, retailers
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like apple and coca-cola and nike, labor groups, mayors and local officials. and the public, the public is with us. polls show that. the problem, most of this support is latent and unorganized. none of these groups feel they can carry this battle on their own yet if they choose to unite, if we create an allied command, assemble these various divisions and join in on a strategy that deploys them all effectively into action, that latent strength becomes potent strength. that is a game changer. when the polluting industry is
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looking down the barrel of a regulatory gun, when their political allies are fearful of a strongly backed political operation backed also by the american people, when mobilized and motivated forces from a wide swath of the economy, multiple sectors are all active, the political landscape then shifts dramatically and a price on carbon is achievable. so i propose to the american people that those who believe it is time to wake up and to take action, to fend off devastating changes to our oceans and to our climate, let us be not faint of heart. let us have the strength of our convictions and get to work and get this done. we can. the tools to do it already lie
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all around us. this can all take place quite rapidly. let's get it done. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:

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